Particle-Based Photovoltaics

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Science  21 Oct 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5747, pp. 401
DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5747.401c

The ability of organic materials to serve as low-cost replacements for silicon in solar cells is hampered by their limited absorption range for light and the low mobility of the charge carriers that are generated. The addition of colloidal semiconductor nanoparticles can enhance electron transport in these polymers. Gur et al. (p. 462) now show that a solar cell can be realized with only inorganic nanoparticles. They spin-cast bilayers of rod-shaped CdSe or CdTe nanoparticles, which act as donor-acceptor pairs, on indium oxide glass, and then coat them with a metallic top electrode. The highest efficiency for simulated solar illumination was ~3% for a device in which the top contact was made from calcium and the carrier trapping was minimized by sintering the nanoparticles.

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