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New dyes seek to replace silicon for solar

Photonics Spectra
Aug 2012
Silicon solar cells could be replaced by flexible, lightweight and inexpensive dyes, if scientists in Finland achieve their goal.

Jongyun Moon and colleagues at the University of Turku have developed dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) that they believe could become a practical replacement for silicon-based cells because they are cheaper and easier to manufacture. This would provide effective solar-energy-harvesting technologies to developing countries that cannot rely on government subsidies for funding.

When sunlight shines on a layer of white pigment titanium oxide on a DSC, the solar energy displaces electrons from a layer beneath the coating, causing a flow of charge within the DSC and creating an electric current.

DSCs are less fragile than silicon solar cells and do not have to be manufactured in a cleanroom; however, they also are not as efficient, so much development work remains to be done before they dethrone silicon.

The research was published in the International Journal of Technology,Policy and Management (doi: 10.1504/ IJTPM.2012.046925).

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