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Titanium Dioxide Solar Cells

Description:

Today, roughly 90% of the photovoltaic market is dominated by single-junction solar cells constructed with silicon wafers. The drawback to these silicon-based solar cells is the cost of the silicon and cost of manufacturing. Recently, researchers have explored other types of solar cells such as dye-sensitive solar cells (DSSC). DSSC’s are made with low-cost materials and do not need elaborate apparatus to manufacture. They can be engineered into flexible sheets and is mechanically robust, requiring no protection from minor events like hail or tree strikes. TiO2 (titanium dioxide) nanotube solar cells represent a breakthrough in the application of nano solar technology. Dr. Misra’s discovery enables titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanostructure membranes to be made quickly and separated from titanium substrates in a simple manner without the use of hazardous or toxic chemicals. They are transparent, crack-free TiO2 nanotubular membranes with greater photovoltaic properties.

Benefits & Advantages

  • Grows nanostructures quickly (40 um/hour) and can be used to thicken the dye layer in a dye-sensitive solar cell, resulting in increased efficiency (2.71%)
  • Enables the separation of titanium dioxide nanotubes from the substrate without the use of hazardous or toxic chemicals, leaving a reusable titanium substrate
  • Produce a nanotube that is open at both ends, improving dye absorption, photon transport, wettability, and electrolyte uptake

Technology Overview

DSSC’s produce current through the photoexcitation of electrons when sunlight or light hits the photosensitive dye. To increase the rate of photoexcitation, the thickness of the photosensitive dye layer can be increased. One way of increasing dye layer thickness is to provide a nanostructure on the photosensitive electrode capable of holding the dye. The discovery made by UNR enables titanium dioxide nanostructure membranes to be made quickly and separated from titanium substrates in a simple manner and without the use of hazardous or toxic chemicals. The titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanostructure membranes have been manufactured with a total diameter of 180 microns. Initial capacity tests have demonstrated a photocurrent of 6.05mA on front, 5.04mA back. Capacity tests suggest a 13 mA/cm2 photocurrent is obtainable.

Intellectual Property

UNR ID#: UNR09-013
Title: Titanium Dioxide Nanotubes and Their Use in Photovoltaic Devices
Appl. No.: 12/768,667

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Dan Langford
Technology Commercialization, Manager
University of Nevada, Reno and Desert Research Institute
dlangford@unr.edu
Inventors:
Manoranjan Misra
Subarna Banerjee
Susanta Kumar Mohapatra
Keywords: