David Kirkpatrick

November 7, 2008

Gratzel solar cells

It really is amazing to me the progresss going on right now in solar power. The article uses the same qualifier, but this does sound like a promising technology.

From the link:

Dye-sensitized solar cells, sometimes called Grätzel cells after their inventor, Michael Grätzel, a chemistry professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, in Switzerland, have long been considered a promising technology for reducing the cost of solar power. They’re potentially cheaper to make than conventional solar cells and can be quickly printed. But this potential hasn’t been realized because to achieve efficiency levels high enough to compete with conventional solar cells–about 10 percent–it’s been necessary to use volatile electrolytes that need to be carefully sealed inside the cells, an expensive and unreliable step in the manufacturing.

Now Grätzel, along with Peng Wang, a professor at the Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, have made efficient solar cells that use nonvolatile electrolytes, with the best achieving efficiencies of 10 percent. They also showed that the solar cells remained stable when exposed to light and high temperatures for 1,000 hours. The advance “pushes the technology close to over the ’10 percent hump,’ which is where a thin-film technology needs to be to be economically competitive,” says Tonio Buonassisi, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT.

Dye-sensitized solar cells called Grätzel cells (pictured here) will be far more efficient and durable thanks to new electrolytes and dyes.

Solar flex: Dye-sensitized solar cells called Grätzel cells (pictured here) will be far more efficient and durable thanks to new electrolytes and dyes.