The Road to Low-Cost and High-Efficiency Solar Cells Via Self-Assembled Nanomaterials
Hugh W. Hillhouse, School of Chemical Engineering and Energy Center at Discovery Park, Purdue University, 480 Stadium Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907
Developing economic and green methods to supply our future energy needs is perhaps the grand challenge of our time. Due to its abundant and distributed supply, solar energy may play a key role in this revolution. However, limitations in cost and efficiency have hindered solar photovoltaic energy conversion from supplying a large fraction of our energy. The presentation will focus on our progress towards solving the key challenges to decrease the cost and increase the efficiency of photovoltaic energy conversion by developing new nanomaterials and devices. In particular, I will discuss our recent developments of a new low-cost route to solar cells based on nanocrystals and a new method for forming nanowire solar cells designed to break the Shockley-Queisser limit (33%, the upper limit of energy conversion for a conventional single junction solar cell). For the latter, the formation of monodisperse diameter low-bandgap semiconductor quantum wires is a key challenge. However, as will be shown in the presentation, this can be overcome by new methods of nanofabrication based on self-assembly.