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Researchers prepare cheap quantum dot solar paint

It typically takes a day or two to prepare quantum dot solar cells in the conventional multifilm architecture. Now a team of researchers is reducing the preparation time of quantum dot solar cells to less than an hour by changing the form to a one-coat quantum dot solar paint. Although the paint form is currently about five times less efficient than the highest recorded efficiency for the multifilm form, the researchers predict that the efficiency can be improved, which could lead to a simple and economically viable way to prepare solar cells.

The researchers, Mathew P. Genovese of the University of Waterloo in Canada, with Ian V. Lightcap and Prashant V. Kamat of the Radiation Laboratory and Department of Chemistry and at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, will be publishing their study in an upcoming issue of ACS .

The new solar paint, which the researchers humorously call “Sun Believable solar paint,” consists of a yellow or brown paste made of . The small size of these tiny semiconductor nanocrystals makes it possible to capture nearly all incident visible sunlight with an extremely thin layer of dots. The researchers experimented with three types of quantum dots: CdS, CdSe, and TiO2, all of which are powder-like, with water and tert butanol as the solvent. As Kamat explained, all commercial paints are TiO2 nanoparticle-based suspensions. But instead of adding dye to give the paint a desired color, here the researchers added colored semiconductor nanocrystals to the solar paint to achieve the desired optical and electronic properties.

“Quantum dots are semiconductor nanocrystals which exhibit size-dependent optical and electronic properties,” Kamat told “In a quantum dot sensitized solar cell, the excitation of semiconductor quantum dot or semiconductor nanocrystal is followed by electron injection into TiO2 nanoparticles. These electrons are then transferred to the collecting electrode surface to generate photocurrent. The holes that remain in the semiconductor quantum dot are removed by a hole conductor or redox couple and are transported to a counter electrode.”

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