Thursday, April 05, 2007

Nanotechnology Breakthrough For Solar Cells in NZ

A significant breakthrough by researchers in New Zealand might help bring down the cost of solar cells to just one tenth of the current cost.

"Dr Wayne Campbell and researchers in the (Massey University’s Nanomaterials Research) centre have developed a range of coloured dyes for use in dye-sensitised solar cells. The synthetic dyes are made from simple organic compounds closely related to those found in nature." - Link (via) The porphyrin dye they have developed is apparently the most efficient dye in the world.

The main reason for the lower cost would be a production process that uses titanium dioxide, a plentiful, renewable and non-toxic mineral. Silicon is also plentiful but the refining of pure silicon is a very energy hungry process.

Also unlike silicon-based cells that need direct sunlight, cells from this process will work in low-light conditions which makes them ideal for cloudy climates - and cloudy days in sunny climates.

The center will now work with commercial companies to incorporate the dyes into roofing materials or wall panels, and they already have several expressions of interest.