Biologists have created a dye that absorbs light to generate electricity

In common silicon solar cells, which can be seen on the roofs of buildings, light hits one of the

two semiconductor layers and freeselectrons. Their movement creates an electric current. Dye Sensitized Solar Cell (DSSC) works in a similar way. However, one of the semiconductor layers is replaced with a light-sensitive dye, replaced with a light-sensitive dye that absorbs light and releases electrons.

Dye Sensitized Solarcells are generally not as efficient at converting light to electricity as their silicon counterparts. But they work in low light conditions, they can be transparent and flexible, so they are better for some designs. To fully exploit the benefits of DSSCs, the research project is looking for ways to improve their effectiveness.

In an article published in the journal Dyes andPigments, NTNU scientists have shown that adding a specific molecule to dyes can improve their light-trapping properties. What worked best was the addition of compounds containing thiophenes - molecules similar to benzene but containing sulfur.

A pigment that can improve the performance of solar cells. Credit: Wilde Broten.

To collect light, the dye must actas an electron donor and acceptor. By adding something in between a donor and an acceptor, chemists can increase the amount of light collected by cells. In the process of working on the project, scientists have found that increasing the amount of light captured by the dye does not mean that solar cells will perform better. Simply put, you can get more electrons, but they don't necessarily go where they need to go.

Improving DSSC efficiency will eliminate the mainobstacle to their widespread use. The current highest efficiency is around 12%, compared to 20% for traditional commercial silicon solar cells.

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DSSC - dye-sensitized solar cell

Acceptor - an atom or a group of atoms that accept electrons and form a chemical bond due to its empty orbital and a lone pair of donor electrons