Saturday 20 September, 2014

Viruses can boost solar-cell efficiency: MIT study

Published On: Tue, Apr 26th, 2011 | Energy Science | By BioNews

MIT researchers have enlisted tiny viruses to help assemble solar cells and make significant improvements in their power-conversion efficiency.

Graduate students Xiangnan Dang and Hyunjung Yi — working with Angela Belcher, the W. M. Keck Professor of Energy, and several other researchers — found that a genetically engineered version of a virus called M13, which normally infects bacteria, can be used to control the arrangement of the nanotubes on a surface, keeping the tubes separate so they can’t short out the circuits, and keeping the tubes apart so they don’t clump.

The system the researchers tested used a type of solar cell known as dye-sensitized solar cells, a lightweight and inexpensive type where the active layer is composed of titanium dioxide, rather than the silicon used in conventional solar cells.

In their tests, adding the virus-built structures enhanced the power conversion efficiency to 10.6 percent from 8 percent — almost a one-third improvement.

This dramatic improvement takes place even though the viruses and the nanotubes make up only 0.1 percent by weight of the finished cell.

“A little biology goes a long way,” Belcher said.

The study was recently published online in the journal Nature.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

More from Energy Science
  • ”Resomation”, the new environmentally friendly way of disposing dead bodies
  • Solar power ‘major culprit behind lead pollution in developing countries’
  • Now, leftover curries to produce cooking gas!
  • India aims at over 50,000 MW of nuclear power by 2030
  • Iran n-plant to start operation by year-end
  • Visit us on Google+