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Solar in the News: Stanford University Studies New Solar Cells

Last week, Huffington Post released an article about research being conducted at Stanford University on new solar cell technology. Stanford University is at the front of the race to discover new solar cells that are more efficient and cheaper to use.  The goal is to make solar accessible to everyone.

Traditional solar cells are made of silicon semiconductors.  When exposed to heat or light, semiconductors conduct electricity (unlike  conductors such as metal which always carry electricity).  Stanford's findings begins with the "Quantum Dot." This is a new kind of solar cell previously designed to replace the silicon semiconductor.  This cell was revealed several years ago, but never took off because it was not as efficient as silicon and other solar cells.

The recent improvement, led by Prof. Stacey Bent, adds a titanium dioxide semiconductor in their quantum dot solar cell with a very thin single layer of organic molecules. Just that small change improves the efficiency of the cell by 3 times!  The Stanford team plans to continue experiment with materials for both the quantum dot and the coating in order to find the most efficient solar cell and to increase the light absorption of the molecule.

The team still has a significant amount of work to do in order to make the Quantum Cells a viable replacement for  tradition silicon semiconductors.  But hopefully one day you and I can sit on our front porches with our ridiculously necessary gardgets powered simply by new, improved (cheaper!) "quantum dot" solar! Keep on keepin' on, Dr. Bent!

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