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Highly Efficient Solar Cells Could Result From Quantum Dot Research

It was recently discovered that hot electrons can be transferred from photo-excited lead selenide nanocrystals to an electron conductor made of titanium dioxide. Their discovery points the way toward more efficient solar cells. Credit: The University of Texas at Austin by Staff Writers.

Austin TX (SPX) Jun 25, 2010

Conventional solar cell efficiency could be increased from the current limit of 30 percent to more than 60 percent, suggests new research on semiconductor nanocrystals, or quantum dots, led by chemist Xiaoyang Zhu at The University of Texas at Austin.

The scientists have discovered a method to capture the higher energy sunlight that is lost as heat in conventional solar cells. The maximum efficiency of the silicon solar cell in use today is about 31 percent. That's because much of the energy from sunlight hitting a solar cell is too high to be turned into usable electricity. That energy, in the form of so-called "hot electrons," is lost as heat.

One of the big problems with solar power has been that it costs more than electricity generated by conventional means. But some experts think that, under certain circumstances, the premium for solar power can be erased, without subsidies or dramatic technical breakthroughs.

 
Solar water pumping systems consist of three basic components: Solar Panel, Pump assembly and Power Controller.
 
   
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