UQ develops quantum dot solar cells

Wednesday, 19 February, 2020


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A University of Queensland (UQ) team has developed quantum dot solar cells that can be made into thin, flexible films and used to generate electricity.

The technology converts solar energy to electricity via the use of tiny nanoparticles called ‘quantum dots’, which pass electrons between one another and generate electrical current when exposed to solar energy in a solar cell device. The team’s findings are published in Nature Energy.

Study leader Professor Lianzhou Wang said conventional solar technologies used rigid, expensive materials, whereas the quantum dots are flexible and printable.

“This opens up a huge range of potential applications, including the possibility to use it as a transparent skin to power cars, planes, homes and wearable technology.

“Eventually it could play a major part in meeting the United Nations’ goal to increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix,” he said.

Professor Wang’s team set the world record for quantum dot solar cell efficiency by developing a unique surface engineering strategy.

“This new generation of quantum dots is compatible with more affordable and large-scale printable technologies,” Professor Wang said.

“The near 25% improvement in efficiency we have achieved over the previous world record is important.

“It is effectively the difference between quantum dot solar cell technology being an exciting ‘prospect’ and being commercially viable.”

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj AC extended his congratulations to the UQ team.

“The world needs to rapidly reduce carbon emissions and this requires us to invest much more in research to improve existing energy-generation technologies and develop entirely new ones,” Professor Høj said.

“Harnessing the power of fundamental technological and scientific research is a big part of this process — and that’s what we’re focused on at UQ.”

Image caption: A UQ team have developed quantum dot solar cells that can be made into thin, flexible films and used to generate electricity even in low-light conditions.

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