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Russian, Swedish experts discover efficient, non-toxic way to produce solar batteries

The use of silicon quantum dots in solar cells would greatly reduce the technological costs of solar energy

MOSCOW, April 10. /TASS/. A group of Russian and Swedish scientists using gold stripes or nanoribbons altered the luminescence of silicon nanocrystals (silicon quantum dots) which can be used for producing solar batteries, the press service of the Skolkovo Institute for Science and Technology (Skoltech) reported.

Skoltech researchers together with their colleagues from Moscow State University (MSU) and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (KTH) first theoretically and then experimentally demonstrated that gold nanoribbons (stripes) modify the properties of silicon quantum dots, which can be utilized in manufacturing solar batteries. The study’s results were published in the prominent journal, Scientific Reports.

The use of silicon quantum dots in solar cells would greatly reduce the technological costs of solar energy. Furthermore, it is a way to avoid toxic substances such as arsenic or lead when producing solar batteries.

Efficient batteries

According to the main author of the study, Sergey Dyakov, who is a Skoltech researcher, silicon quantum dots and silicon nanocrystals would be manufactured based on the same silicon, which is now used to manufacture smartphones.

"When we take such material as silicon and use it to produce nanocrystals with a diameter of 5-6 nanometers as we do in our work, we obtain objects that can glow," Dyakov said and pointed out that the silicon by itself shows no photoluminescence.

He also listed the advantages of using silicon nanocrystals. First, in contrast to other materials used for manufacturing solar batteries, silicon is very abundant and second, it is cheap. He mentioned that gold nanowires, in that case, are especially attractive as they make it possible to control the optical properties of silicon quantum dots.

"If we want some material to be used in light-emitting devices or solar batteries, we should be able to control its optical properties. Additionally, such material must be supplied with electrodes in such a manner that it can show a maximum emission efficiency or good absorption properties," Dyakov said and concluded that this problem is solved namely by using silicon quantum dots with gold nanoribbons.