From Science Daily:

Florida State University researchers are striving to make solar cells more effective at trapping and using light.

They’re one step closer.

In a new paper in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Kenneth Hanson and his team have introduced a new strategy for generating more efficient solar cells. The team is composed of post-doctoral researcher Tanmay Banerjee and graduate students Sean Hill and Tristan Dilbeck.

“We’re looking not only for new materials but also new light harvesting processes to make solar cells better,” Hanson said.

Though solar cells have grown in popularity, they are still not widely used by the general public as an energy source due to their high cost and low efficiency. A typical solar cell, at maximum, converts less than 33 percent of light into electricity, so researchers have been working to find ways to surpass this limit and make cells more efficient.

In the past, scientists have put an extra photon upconversion filter before or after the cell to catch the low energy, unused light and convert it into usable, high-energy light. But, Hanson wanted to integrate this process directly into the cell.

The researchers were able to do that by using self-assembly. Through a soaking procedure, they assembled two molecules, an acceptor and sensitizer, on a surface. Once assembled, these molecules work in concert to perform photon upconverion, combining two low energy, green photons to generate a higher energy, blue photon, which can then be used to generate electricity.

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