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Harvesting energy from the sun - Next-generation solar cells

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Alisa Molotova.

The energy usage of the industrial countries is steadily rising whilst we try to decarbonise our energy consumption at the same time. This discrepancy requires affordable large-scale renewable energy sources. Solar panels have the potential to make up a large proportion of our future energy mix. The prices for conventional silicon-based solar cells have dropped by almost a factor of 100 over the last 20 years. However, no significant improvements have been made in the efficiency of those devices. Modern organic and hybrid organic-inorganic semiconductors have the ability to overcome the limitations of conventional solar cells. Not only are these electronics ultra-thin – one hundredth of a human hair – they are also easily manufactured via ink-jet printing. Their potential application goes beyond classical solar panels on the roof: They can act as energy source for off-grid villages in developing countries and as electricity-generating window tints in cars or office buildings. In the Cavendish Lab we use femtosecond (1 femtosecond = 0.000000000000001 s) laser spectroscopy to study these new fascinating materials. This allows us to investigate in ‘slow motion’ how light gets converted into electricity. In this talk, I will present new design approaches for next-generation solar cells and demonstrate how this will allow to overcome the efficiency limits of current photovoltaics. I will then present some of the laser spectroscopy work which helped us to boost the efficiency of these devices.

This talk is part of the Caius MCR/SCR research talks series.

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