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Title: Advanced Nanomaterials for High-Efficiency Solar Cells

Energy supply has arguably become one of the most important problems facing humankind. The exponential demand for energy is evidenced by dwindling fossil fuel supplies and record-high oil and gas prices due to global population growth and economic development. This energy shortage has significant implications to the future of our society, in addition to the greenhouse gas emission burden due to consumption of fossil fuels. Solar energy seems to be the most viable choice to meet our clean energy demand given its large scale and clean/renewable nature. However, existing methods to convert sun light into electricity are not efficient enough to become a practical alternative to fossil fuels. This DOE project aims to develop advanced hybrid nanomaterials consisting of semiconductor nanoparticles (quantum dots or QDs) supported on graphene for cost-effective solar cells with improved conversion efficiency for harvesting abundant, renewable, clean solar energy to relieve our global energy challenge. Expected outcomes of the project include new methods for low-cost manufacturing of hybrid nanostructures, systematic understanding of their properties that can be tailored for desired applications, and novel photovoltaic cells. Through this project, we have successfully synthesized a number of novel nanomaterials, including vertically-oriented graphene (VG) sheets, three-dimensional (3D) carbon nanostructuresmore » comprising few-layer graphene (FLG) sheets inherently connected with CNTs through sp{sup 2} carbons, crumpled graphene (CG)-nanocrystal hybrids, CdSe nanoparticles (NPs), CdS NPs, nanohybrids of metal nitride decorated on nitrogen-doped graphene (NG), QD-carbon nanotube (CNT) and QD-VG-CNT structures, TiO{sub 2}-CdS NPs, and reduced graphene oxide (RGO)-SnO{sub 2} NPs. We further assembled CdSe NPs onto graphene sheets and investigated physical and electronic interactions between CdSe NPs and the graphene. Finally we have demonstrated various applications of these nanomaterials in solar cells (both as photoanodes and counter electrodes), gas sensors, and energy storage devices. This research is potentially transformative since the availability of affordable hybrid nanostructures and their fundamental properties will enable various innovative applications of the multifunctional hybrid nanostructures and thus will accelerate new discoveries and inventions in nanoscience and nanotechnology.« less
  1. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE); USDOE EE Office of Solar Energy Technology (EE-2A)
Contributing Orgs:
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Country of Publication:
United States