Superabsorbing Design = Cheaper Thin Film Solar Cells?

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a “superabsorbing” design that may significantly improve the light absorption efficiency of thin film solar cells and drive down manufacturing costs. The superabsorbing design could decrease the thickness of the semiconductor materials used in thin film solar cells by more than one order of magnitude without compromising the capability […] Read more

Solar Fuel Cell Converts Biomass to Electricity

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new type of low-temperature fuel cell that directly converts biomass to electricity with assistance from a catalyst activated by solar or thermal energy. Although low temperature fuel cells powered by methanol or hydrogen have been well studied, existing low temperature fuel cell technologies cannot directly use […] Read more

IKEA Builds Largest Solar Roof in South Florida

Last week, IKEA, a Swedish company that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, announced its plans to install solar panels on the roof of its new Miami-Dade-area store under construction in Sweetwater, FL. Pending permits, installation of solar panels on the store’s roof will begin in several months, with opening in summer 2014. The array will be the […] Read more

Quasi-Random Structures: Making Solar More Efficient?

An international team of scientists, led by researchers from the Universities of York and St Andrews, has developed a new method to increase the efficiency of solar cells. The new approach involves using a new structure called a quasi-random structure and achieves highly efficient broadband light trapping in thin films. A quasi-random structure to maximise […] Read more

$8 Million Battery Research Lab at University of Michigan Announced

A unique $8 million battery research lab at the University of Michigan will enable industry and university researchers to collaborate on developing cheaper and longer lasting energy storage devices in the heart of the U.S. auto industry. Initial support for the lab includes $5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), $2.1 million from […] Read more

Ion Conducting Polymers: Improving Solar Cell Performance

Researchers at Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology have found a way to make dye-sensitized solar cells more energy-efficient and longer-lasting. Drawing their inspiration from photosynthesis, dye-sensitized solar cells offer the promise of low-cost solar photovoltaics and – when coupled with catalysts – even the possibility of generating hydrogen and oxygen, just like plants. A […] Read more

Organic Solar Cells: Electron Spin Control Shows Promise

An organic or “plastic” solar cell is a type of a solar cell made with polymers that converts light to electricity using carbon-based molecules. These solar cells have not yet been to match the efficiency of their silicon-based counterparts. Now, researchers at the University of Washington have discovered a synthetic, high-performance polymer that behaves differently […] Read more

Solar and Hydrogen Fuel Production

Researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder (CU-Boulder) have dreamed up a radical approach to mainstreaming hydrogen fuel production. Hydrogen could be the ultimate clean energy source for powering cars and homes, but the costs associated with it are still enormous. CU-Boulder’s idea is far away from commercial viability, but it is intriguing. The scientists […] Read more

Storing Hydrogen in Solar Cells

Using a simple solar cell and a photo anode made of a metal oxide bismuth vanadate, scientists at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands have successfully stored nearly five percent of solar energy chemically in the form of hydrogen. This is a major feat as the design of the solar cell […] Read more

In Focus: An ‘Antenna’ for Artificial Photosynthesis

Researchers at Chalmers have found an effective solution for collecting sunlight for artificial photosynthesis. By combining self-assembling DNA molecules with simple dye molecules, the researchers have created a system that resembles nature’s own antenna system. Artificial photosynthesis is one of the hot trends in energy research. A large number of the worlds’ energy problems could […] Read more

Moth Eye Inspired Solar?

The natural world has often inspired science and where researchers at North Carolina State University turned for inspiration to harness light more efficiently in solar devices. If you picture oil on a puddle or a soap bubble, they each resemble the sheen of rainbow. That is a reflection caused by the thin film of one […] Read more

FUTUREWATCH: Self Assembling PV Cells

Newly published research from Rice University and Penn State show that some polymer-based organic PV devices can self-assemble. The research could make producing organic PV far easier and cost effective in the future. The research, led by Rice’s Rafael Verduzco and Penn State’s Enrique Gomez—both chemical engineers, was recently published in the American Chemical Society’s […] Read more

Catching Photosynthesis in the Act

Photosynthetic oxidation of water is one of the central processes of life on Earth, but it is still not completely understood. Now, a German-American team of scientists has set out to observe the intermediate stages of this complex catalytic reaction using ultrashort snap shots taken at light sources including BESSY II in Berlin and the […] Read more

Cooking Solar in a Microwave Oven?

University of Utah metallurgists created a “recipe” to produce solar cell material in a microwave oven. Using this kitchen appliance, a nanocrystal semiconductor suitable for photovoltaic applications can be manufactured rapidly from cheap abundant and less toxic metals than other semiconductors. Scientists hope that this new method will be used for more efficient photovoltaic solar […] Read more