Solar Technology Breakthrough: World Record Quantum Dot Solar Cell Efficiency

Quantum Dot Solar Cells

A University of Queensland team has developed quantum dot solar cells that can be made into thin, flexible films and used to generate electricity even in low-light conditions. Credit: UQ

A new world record for the conversion of solar energy to electricity using quantum dots.

The development of next-generation solar power technology that has the potential to be used as a flexible ‘skin’ over hard surfaces has moved a step closer, thanks to a significant breakthrough at The University of Queensland.

UQ researchers set a world record for the conversion of 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 development represents a significant step towards making the technology commercially viable and supporting global renewable energy targets.

Professor Lianzhou Wang, who led the breakthrough, said conventional solar technologies used rigid, expensive materials. “The new class of quantum dots the University has developed are flexible and printable,” he said. “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.”

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

Overcoming previous challenges around the fact that the surface of quantum dots tend to be rough and unstable – making them less efficient at converting solar into electrical current.

Lianzhou Wang Quantum Dot Solar Cells

Research team Left to Right – Professor Lianzhou Wang, Shanshan Ding, Mengmeng Hao, Dr. Yang Bai. Credit: UQ

“This new generation of quantum dots is compatible with more affordable and large-scale printable technologies,” Professor Wang said. “The near 25 percent 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.”

The University of Queensland 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.”

Reference: “Ligand-assisted cation-exchange engineering for high-efficiency colloidal Cs1xFAxPbI3 quantum dot solar cells with reduced phase segregation” by Mengmeng Hao, Yang Bai, Stefan Zeiske, Long Ren, Junxian Liu, Yongbo Yuan, Nasim Zarrabi, Ningyan Cheng, Mehri Ghasemi, Peng Chen, Miaoqiang Lyu, Dongxu He, Jung-Ho Yun, Yi Du, Yun Wang, Shanshan Ding, Ardalan Armin, Paul Meredith, Gang Liu, Hui-Ming Cheng and Lianzhou Wang, 20 January 2020, Nature Energy.
DOI: 10.1038/s41560-019-0535-7

The work was funded by the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Programs in collaboration with a number of colleagues both in Australia and overseas.

5 Comments on "Solar Technology Breakthrough: World Record Quantum Dot Solar Cell Efficiency"

  1. Christopher Foley | February 18, 2020 at 8:23 pm | Reply

    Current record efficiency in photovoltaic is around 23%. 25% gain would mean 28.65% efficiency. The current Return On Energy Investment for photovoltaic is 7 to 1 . Over the life of the solar panel it puts out 7 times what they cost to make. Add in battery storage that number gets cut in half. Wind energy is 18 to 1. Hydroelectricity 100:1 Nuclear 100 :1 From an investment standpoint photovoltaic is the worst. Thermal solar makes way more sense . Fission is going to be necessary to get to zero carbon emissions in the short term.

    • Article from Cosmos clarifies: After independent testing, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the US found that a team from the University of Queensland led by Lianzhou Wang had achieved 16.6% efficiency; the previous record in quantum dot solar cell category was 13.4%.

  2. Agree, a poorly written article. No where does it give the reader the actual record breaking solar cell efficiency, even though that is part of the main title of article. Author should be removed from writing in the science realm.

  3. 16.6% efficiency but is producing electricity even in low light conditions… Which will make interesting to have both figures to compare both technologies. Perhaps in rainy countries they make much more sense, as the average of production time will be on these low light conditions

  4. Yes, but what is low light, and if it is 16% efficiency, is that relative to available light (so actually only 2 or 3 % possible performance from full sun) or relative to nominal one sun intensity.

    And many other questions.

    I concur with other comments that this is the sort of article so poorly written that it harms the cause, appears to be bot written, we really need some quality bots that would somehow “downvote” this crap into non existence by gaming the pagerank.

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