Tag Archives: photovoltaics

Bio for nano

Engineers work to create new biomaterials with energy technology applications

When automotive engineers want to create a new car, they don’t build thousands of prototypes. Instead, they create computer models and run simulations for performance, efficiency and desirability before a model is selected for fabrication.

University of Delaware materials science professors Darrin Pochan and Kristi Kiick are taking a similar approach to building new nanomaterials from biomolecules — namely peptides and proteins — that could increase the efficiency of photovoltaics, also known as solar cells, and other electronic devices. (more…)

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Photovoltaics from Any Semiconductor

Berkeley Lab Technology Could Open Door to More Widespread Solar Energy Devices

A technology that would enable low-cost, high efficiency solar cells to be made from virtually any semiconductor material has been developed by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley. This technology opens the door to the use of plentiful, relatively inexpensive semiconductors, such as the promising metal oxides, sulfides and phosphides, that have been considered unsuitable for solar cells because it is so difficult to tailor their properties by chemical means.

“It’s time we put bad materials to good use,” says physicist Alex Zettl, who led this research along with colleague Feng Wang. “Our technology allows us to sidestep the difficulty in chemically tailoring many earth abundant, non-toxic semiconductors and instead tailor these materials simply by applying an electric field.” (more…)

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Yale Engineers Making Solar Power More Efficient

Innovations by a team of Yale University researchers could lead to improvements in basic solar power technology that result in lower-cost, higher-efficiency photovoltaic systems.

Photovoltaics (PV) directly convert sunlight into electricity. PV systems can be arrayed on rooftops to generate electricity for entire buildings, among other uses. Less expensive, more efficient systems could encourage broader use of this clean energy technology. (more…)

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Nanocrystals Go Bare: Berkeley Lab Researchers Strip Material’s Tiny Tethers

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have discovered a universal technique for stripping nanocrystals of tether-like molecules that until now have posed as obstacles for their integration into devices. These findings could provide scientists with a clean slate for developing new nanocrystal-based technologies for energy storage, photovoltaics, smart windows, solar fuels and light-emitting diodes.

Nanocrystals are typically prepared in a chemical solution using stringy molecules called ligands chemically tethered to their surface. These hydrocarbon-based or organometallic molecules help stabilize the nanocrystal, but also form an undesirable insulating shell around the structure. Efficient and clean removal of these surface ligands is challenging and has eluded researchers for decades. (more…)

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Supercomputers Accelerate Development of Advanced Materials

*Berkeley Lab helps develop a Google-like search engine for materials research.*

New materials are crucial to building a clean energy economy—for everything from batteries to photovoltaics to lighter weight vehicles—but today the development cycle is too slow: around18 years from conception to commercialization. To speed up this process, a team of researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) teamed up to develop a new tool, called the Materials Project, which launches this month.

“Our vision is for this tool to become a dynamic ‘Google’ of material properties, which continually grows and changes as more users come on board to analyze the results, verify against experiments and increase their knowledge,” says Kristin Persson, a Berkeley Lab chemist and one of the founding scientists behind the Materials Project. “So many scientists can benefit from this type of screening. Considering the demand for innovative clean energy technology we needed most of these materials yesterday.” (more…)

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