Scientists have perfected a method that will lead to the manufacture of economical and efficient metal based solar cells. Scientists at the Rice’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics have perfected a method that will allow the use of light in capturing nanomaterials into future designs.
The most efficient photovoltaic cells incorporate a combination of semiconductors made of rare and expensive elements like Gallium and Indium. To reduce the cost scientists suggest that highly efficient plasmonic nanostructures should be made using low-cost semiconductors like metal oxides.
Bob Zheng, a graduate student along with Alejandro Manjavacas, postdoctoral research associate have perfected a process that solar engineers can use to ascertain the electric producing capabilities for any arrangement of metallic nanoparticles. Zheng explained that when light shines on metallic nanoparticles some electrons in the metal becomes excited and go to a much higher energy level.
Zheng further added that Plasmonic based photovoltaic cells were low in efficiency, and it is not is not clear if it was due to fundamental physical limitation or from less perfect design. Zhang cited the example of work done by another Rice graduate student, Ali Sobhani, where absorption was intense near a metal-semiconductor interface.
Scientists have worked to perfect a process to augment the field intensity enhancement of photonic structures for single-molecule sensing and other applications.
Progress in the field of solar energy has been few and far apart. On one hand, the demand to look for greener energy is increasing technical breakthroughs in the solar energy sector has a lot of ground to cover.
The latest research by Rice University scientists has opened a window of opportunity to use nanomaterials to boost the efficiency of photovoltaic cells. The scientists have applied theoretical analysis and observation from an experimental setup to perfect a process that can be used by solar engineers to determine the electric producing capabilities of an arrangement of metallic nanoparticles.