Solar cell in a bottle
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--If things play out as hoped, these vials hold the seeds for future solar cells.
Inside are quantum dots, crystals that are only a few nanometers in size, made from carbon-based dyes. It's one of the avenues of research at the Eni-MIT Solar Frontiers Research Center, which was officially dedicated on Tuesday.
Researchers are working at the molecular or quantum dot level, which allows them to fine-tune the light-absorption properties and band gap of the semiconductor materials, explained Vladimir Bulovic, the director of the center, during a tour on Tuesday.
Thin-film solar cells made from quantum dots have the potential to dramatically lower the cost of solar power and enhance traditional silicon solar panels. But it will take years before they become commercially viable. It typically takes 10 years between invention and commercialization and these technologies are still in their early years.
May 5, 2010 8:31 AM PDT
Photo by: Martin LaMonica
| Caption by: Martin LaMonica
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