• 4 minutes China 2019 - Orwell was 35 years out
  • 7 minutes Wonders of US Shale: US Shale Benefits: The U.S. leads global petroleum and natural gas production with record growth in 2018
  • 11 minutes Trump will capitulate on the trade war
  • 14 minutes Glory to Hong Kong
  • 1 hour China's Blueprint For Global Power
  • 4 hours National Geographic Warns Billions Face Shortages Of Food And Clean Water Over Next 30 Years
  • 49 mins Why did Aramco Delay IPO again ? It's Not Always What It Seems.
  • 1 hour Yesterday Angela Merkel stopped Trump technology war on China – the moral of the story is do not eavesdrop on ladies with high ethical standards
  • 4 hours ABC of Brexit, economy wise, where to find sites, links to articles ?
  • 4 hours Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, Ukraine Oil & Gas exploration company Burisma, and 2020 U.S. election shenanigans
  • 36 mins World Stocks Drop And Futures Tread Water After China Reports Worst GDP Growth In 30 Years
  • 6 hours Bloomberg: shale slowing. Third wave of shale coming.
  • 6 hours Why don't the other GOP candidates get mention?
  • 3 hours Deepwater GOM Project Claims Industry First
  • 4 hours Idiotic Environmental Predictions
  • 5 hours PETROLEUM for humanity 
Alt Text

Should Tesla Give Up On Solar?

Tesla’s new solar installations dropped…

Andy Tully

Andy Tully

Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com

More Info

Premium Content

How A Mistake May Lead To More Efficient Solar Power

Despite how it sounds, the concept of an “organic solar cell” wasn’t dreamed up in some marketer’s hyperactive imagination.

An organic solar cell is actually “a type of polymer solar cell that uses organic electronics -- a branch of electronics that deals with conductive organic polymers or small organic molecules -- for light absorption and charge transport to produce electricity from sunlight by the photovoltaic effect.”

They can match, and even better, the performance of conventional solar cells, and they cost less.

They have drawbacks, though: specifically, pathways that lose energy. This means researchers need to find the right architecture for organic solar cells, and scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst say they have discovered just that.

Related: New York State’s Solar-Friendly Policies Could Become a Model

Alejandro Briseno of UMass Amherst has been working with colleagues at Stanford University and Germany’s Dresden University of Technology and reported in the journal Nano Letters that his team figured out how to eliminate the dead ends in the cells’ pathways.

“This work is a major advancement in the field of organic solar cells because we have developed what the field considers the ‘Holy Grail’ of architecture for harvesting light and converting it to electricity,” Briseno said.

The problem itself is fairly complex. It’s all about gathering energy in the organic cells. If the energy pathways break, energy is lost, lowering the cell’s efficiency. The energy-gathering is performed by what are known as “blended systems” or “bulk heterojunction donor-acceptor junctions,” or even “positive-negative” or simply “p-n junctions.”

The goal was to mimic simple blades of grass -- which are efficient light-harvesting plants -- by synthesizing single-crystalline organic nanopillars, which Briseno’s team calls “nanograss.” As with ordinary grass, nanopillars keep the pathways unbroken, allowing a more efficient flow of energy.

Nanopillars are synthetic microscopic surfaces with billions of organic posts resembling blades of grass, and like blades of grass, they convert light into energy very efficiently.

Once the dead-end problem was solved, they no longer lost any of that efficiency.

“For decades, scientists and engineers have placed great effort in trying to control the morphology of p-n junction interfaces in organic solar cells,” Briseno said. “We … have at last developed the ideal architecture composed of organic single-crystal vertical nanopillars.”

Related: A Big Pension Fund Is Investing Heavily In Clean Energy. What Should You Do?

What’s even more compelling about this discovery is that it was made because of a mistake. A UMass student working on the project was asked find a substrate on which to grow crystal molecules, in hopes that they would grow vertically to ensure unbroken pathways.

For more than a week, no one realized that the student was using the wrong substrate for the task. Finally, Briseno said, the structure was examined under a scanning electron microscope. To everyone’s surprise, the substrate the student had mistakenly used was the very substrate that was necessary to do the job.

The best news is that the technique used to create the nanopillars is simple and inexpensive, and it works in a variety of electronic devices. Briseno said, “We envision that our nanopillar solar cells will appeal to low-end energy applications such as gadgets, toys, sensors and short lifetime disposable devices.”

By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage



Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play