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Plast

My major interest is photovoltaic re- search. A lot of people make solar cells, but we try to understand the fundamental physics behind photo- voltaics so that we can create de- sign principles.

Xiaoyang Zhu, Louis Nicolas Vau- quelin Regents Professor in Chemis- try, works at the interfaces of chem- istry and condensed matter physics, with a focus on understanding pho- tovoltaic technology. Today we use silicon solar cells, which is expen- sive to make due to the need for high temperatures and purity.” Zhu’s re- search focuses on how one can do it with much cheaper materials like plastic. This research is sponsored in part by the Department of Energy

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Energy Frontier Research Center grant under the directorship of Pro- fessor Paul Barbara (p.11).

“Plastic solar cells can in principle be made by what is called a ‘roll to roll process’, which is very inex- pensive. Plastic solar cells are cur- rently being made but they remain expensive and inefficient. For ex- ample, a polymer photovoltaic com- pany, Konarka Technologies, Inc., currently sells a purse with a solar cell that can charge a cell phone and also a beach umbrella that you can open and have electricity avail- able at the beach or poolside. But they are still too inefficient and too expensive for large scale applica- tion. These solar cells that we are

talking about produce power at a much larger scale. With this tech- nology it would be possible to paint a house with three layers of a pho- tovoltaic paint and as a result the house would become a solar cell. The sunlight filters through large windows and makes electricity.”

“Nanomaterials add another dimen- sion to solar cells. Any material you make, e.g., silicon, has particular properties, but the properties can change when the physical size of the material reaches the nanometer scale. When the size is in the nano- meter region, the physical proper- ties , such as color, of a solid material changes with size. This is the so- called ‘quantum confinement’effect. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28
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