Thursday, March 13, 2008

Toward Cheaper, Robust Solar Cells

There are a lot of different approaches, here's one.
Warning: this industry is a candy store for the nimble, the next 18 months are going to be exciting. If you can't spend the time to keep up, spend the money.
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From MIT's Technology Review:

Cheap and easy-to-make dye-sensitized solar cells are still in the early stages of commercial production. Meanwhile, their inventor, Michael Gratzel, is working on more advanced versions of them. In a paper published in the online edition of Angewandte Chemie, Gratzel, a chemistry professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, presents a version of dye-sensitized cells that could be more robust and even cheaper to make than current versions.

Dye-sensitized solar cells consist of titanium oxide nanocrystals that are coated with light-absorbing dye molecules and immersed in an electrolyte solution, which is sandwiched between two glass plates or embedded in plastic. Light striking the dye frees electrons and creates "holes"--the areas of positive charge that result when electrons are lost. The semiconducting titanium dioxide particles collect the electrons and transfer them to an external circuit, producing an electric current....MORE