Novel solar cells capture audience's imagination
IFM’s Gayathri Devi Rajmohan has won the People's Prize in Deakin’s Three Minute Thesis competition for 2013.
Gayathri, who is a PhD student in IFM’s Plasma Group, is using a plasma treatment to increase the efficiency of dye sensitised solar cells. These cells are cheaper, lighter and easier to manufacture than conventional solar cells and can be attached to a range of surfaces – from backpacks to car bodies. However, their solar conversion efficiency is very low.
In the same way that plants use the green pigment on their leaves to convert sunlight to energy in the process of photosynthesis, a dye sensitised solar cell captures the sun’s energy to generate current. A red dye attached to tiny spheres in the cell is immersed in a liquid to capture sunlight and generate electrons, which are then transported via the spheres, producing an electric current. Gayathri is investigating the use of a plasma treatment to alter the surface of the spheres in order to load more dye and increase the movement of electrons, which means more sunlight is captured and more electricity harvested.
The next step will be to make more effective tiny spheres using the unique advanced plasma facility at Deakin.
The work has potential to reduce the world’s carbon footprint while saving money at the same time.
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