Capturing energy from sunlight with dyes inspired by nature

Capturing energy from sunlight with dyes inspired by nature

David Moe Almenningen shows the pigment that can improve solar cell performance. Credit: Vilde Bråten As sunlight filters through a forest canopy, chlorophyll is hard at work capturing the energy of photons. Inspired by nature, researchers at NTNU are working on light-capturing dyes for solar cells to generate electricity. These aren’t the kind of solar cells you’ll see on the roof of a building. In those silicon solar cells , light hits one of two semiconductor layers and frees up electrons to jump between the layers. It’s the movement of these electrons that creates an electrical current . A dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) works in a similar way, but one of the semiconductor layers is replaced with a photosensitive dye that absorbs the light and releases electrons instead. Dye-sensitized solar cells tend not to be as efficient at converting light into electricity as their silicon counterparts. But they work in low light conditions, and can be transparent and flexible, so are better suited to some applications. To really take full advantage of DSSCs, a research project partially funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN) is looking for ways to step up their efficiency. In a paper published in […]

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