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Study Tests Nanocoating for Solar Cells

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

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Researchers in Iran have developed a nanoparticle coating that they say helps to increase efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells.

The researchers, working for Abar Nanofanavar Pishgam Sharif Company in Tehran, used titanium dioxide nanoparticles to create and test the coating as a replacement for silicon cells, according to a statement released Monday (Oct. 26) by the Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council.

The solar cells can be used to generate power for industrial applications; household appliances; the automotive industry; and in aerospace.

©iStock.com / sawaddee3002

Researchers in Iran have developed a new coating for solar cells that uses titanium dioxide nanoparticles instead of more costly silicon.

Dye-sensitized solar cells have become more important in recent years, according to the researchers.

They can be produced inexpensively in comparison to silicon cells and have relatively simple production technology. The goal of the most recent experiment was to produce and study the performance of a coating that will be used in dye-sensitized solar cells.

Efficiency in Short Circuits

Titanium dioxide nanoparticles doped with elements—such as strontium and chrome—were used to produce the coating, according to the statement.

The titanium dioxide and other spherical nanoparticles used average about 60 nanometers in size. Crystalline structure, chemical structure and composition of the coatings were controlled to increase the current density in short circuits of dye-sensitized solar cells.

Researchers said they believe that the increase in efficiency of the cells in comparison with the cells produced on the base of usual coatings (such as those made with silicon) is a result of the increase in the current density in their short circuits.

In addition to the inexpensive production costs, the other advantages of titanium dioxide nanoparticles are a cheaper final price and a high transparency for the light, the statement said.

They caution, however, that studies still need to be completed to determine how to increase the efficiency of the new cells because they have a low yield of electrical current from the solar cells.

The study is published in the December 2015 issue of the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science.


Tagged categories: Coating chemistry; Nano and hybrid coatings; Nanotechnology; Research; Research and development; Solar; Solar energy

Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/28/2015, 8:48 AM)

Hm. Highest power conversion they found is less than 8%. Suggesting aerospace uses at this point in their development is patently ridiculous. High efficiency is critical to aerospace, followed by durability. Price is a distant third. There are already 46% efficient cells in the lab. On the ground, Sunpower has been selling production panels with >20% efficiency. I can buy a good quality single panel around 15% efficiency at retail prices for $1.25/Watt. In bulk, prices are under $1/watt. Reputable companies are projecting panel prices at or under $0.50/watt by 2017 at the latest. However, installed costs for small solar (home, around 5,000 watts) is more like $3/watt today, despite ~$1/watt panel costs. Less efficient panels mean you have to install MORE panels, more wiring, more weight, more space which all increases the install cost. Less efficient panels could end up costing you more for the same 5kW system even if the panels were free! Several companies have announced 20%+ efficient panels, expecting bulk production in the next 1-2 years - the market is moving fast. The technology described in this article will have to dramatically increase efficiency to have a chance of surviving in the market by the time panels can be produced.

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