Investigators of the University of Toronto have come up with the design of an economical nanoparticle technology, claimed to replace big and bulky solar cells that are now readily being used for energy production by the environment conscious. The research work regarding the new technology was published in the journal Nature Materials.

Research reveals that colloidal quantum dots could be used to manufacture a new generation of solar panels that would be flexible and less expensive than customary designs, half the energy from which is received in the form of these infrared waves.

“This is a material innovation, that’s the first part, and with this new material we can build new device structures. Iodide is almost a perfect [atom to bind with metal] for these quantum solar cells with both high efficiency and air stability. No one has shown that before,” Zhijun Ning, post-doctoral researcher and co-leader of the research, said.

The nanoparticles could be easily spread on roofs by mixing them with paint to collect sunlight. This could facilitate low-cost installation of solar cells. This could gain prominence over the traditional technology. However, there is a downside to the new design. The nanoparticles involved cannot convert much of the infrared part of the spectrum, which we sense as heat from the sun, into energy. The tiny cells offer 8 percent efficiency as compared to the 20 to 30 percent effectiveness in traditional models.

The nanoparticles provide many applications, especially in infrared LEDs and lasers, remote controllers, pollution detectors and better gas sensors. The components manufactured from this design can be used to improve satellite communications and weather observations.

“The field has moved fast, and keeps moving fast, but we need to work toward bringing performance to commercially compelling levels,” Ted Sargent, who led the team with Ning, said in a university press release.

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