New Solar Cell Could be Cheaper and Longer Lasting Alternative


The standard solar cell uses silicon oxide, which is expensive and environmentally toxic. One of the promising alternatives is the so-called “Grätzel cell”, a cheaper, cleaner alternative based on more abundant titanium oxide. However, they don’t last long because this type of dye-sensitized cell uses an electrolyte made from an organic liquid that can leak and potentially corrode the cell.

Researchers at the Northwestern University in Colorado believe they may have solved the problem with the development of a new material that solidifies after being applied to the nanoparticles, therefore it won’t corrode the cell. They say their solid-state cell is more robust and could finally present a viable alternative to standard commercial silicon cells, even though efficiency rate is lower at around 10 percent (while silicon ones may reach 20 per cent).

Researcher Robert P.H. Chang said the cell uses “nanotechnology to the hilt. We have millions and millions of nanoparticles, which gives us a huge effective surface area, and we coat all the particles with light-absorbing dye.”

The next step is to develop an array to carry out further tests.

Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

1 Comment

  1. “The standard solar cell uses silicon oxide, which is expensive and environmentally toxic.”

    Maybe you should not let art curators write about technical stuff, because this is getting too silly.

    Standard solar cells are made of pure silicon with some additives to create the p-n junction. Pure silicon is derived from silicon oxide, in other words sand. Neither pure silicon, nor silicon oxide are toxic.