US researchers make paint-on solar cells with TiO2

22 December 2011 16:14  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame have created a "solar paint" that used semiconducting nanoparticles of titanium dioxide (TiO2) to produce energy, according to information the Indiana-based institution made available on Thursday.

"By incorporating power-producing nanoparticles, called quantum dots, into a spreadable compound, we've made a one-coat solar paint that can be applied to any conductive surface without special equipment," said lead researcher Prashant Kamat of Notre Dame's Center for Nano Science and Technology.

The Notre Dame scientists, who describe the research in the journal ACS Nano, focused their efforts on nano-sized particles of TiO2, which were coated with either cadmium sulphide or cadmium selenide.

The particles were then suspended in a water-alcohol mixture to create a paste.

When the paste was brushed onto a transparent conducting material and exposed to light, it created electricity.

"The best light-to-energy conversion efficiency we've reached so far is 1%, which is well behind the usual 10-15% efficiency of commercial silicon solar cells," Kemat said.

"But this paint can be made cheaply and in large quantities. If we can improve the efficiency somewhat, we may be able to make a real difference in meeting energy needs in the future," Kemat said.

The research on the solar paint, which Notre Dame has dubbed "Sun Believable," was funded by the US Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

For more on TiO2 visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Frank Zaworski
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