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Computational nanotechnology designs more efficient material for solar cells

Computer-aided molecular design has led to the fabrication of a nanotech material for solar cells. Combining electrically conductive polymers, transition metal atoms, and spin-coating to form thin films could lead to solar cells with two major advantages that would make them more efficient at converting light to electricity. From Ohio State University, via AAAS EurekAlert “New Solar Energy Material Captures Every Color of the Rainbow“:

Researchers have created a new material that overcomes two of the major obstacles to solar power: it absorbs all the energy contained in sunlight, and generates electrons in a way that makes them easier to capture.

Ohio State University chemists and their colleagues combined electrically conductive plastic with metals including molybdenum and titanium to create the hybrid material.

“There are other such hybrids out there, but the advantage of our material is that we can cover the entire range of the solar spectrum,” explained Malcolm Chisholm, Distinguished University Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at Ohio State.

The study appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) [abstract].

…To design the hybrid material, the chemists explored different molecular configurations on a computer at the Ohio Supercomputer Center. Then, with colleagues at National Taiwan University, they synthesized molecules of the new material in a liquid solution, measured the frequencies of light the molecules absorbed, and also measured the length of time that excited electrons remained free in the molecules.

—Jim

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