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April 2018

Nanoparticle Breakthrough Could Capture Unseen Light for Solar Energy Conversion

An international team of scientists has demonstrated a breakthrough in the design and function of nanoparticles that could make solar panels more efficient by converting light usually missed by solar cells into usable energy.

The team, led by Foundry scientists, demonstrated how coating tiny particles with organic dyes greatly enhances their ability to capture near-infrared light and to reemit the light in the visible light spectrum, which could also be useful for biological imaging.

Once they understood the mechanism that enables the dyes on nanoparticles to function as antennas to gather a broad range of light, they successfully reengineered the nanoparticles to further amplify the particles’ light-converting properties. Their study was published online April 23 in Nature Photonics.

Researchers found that the dye itself amplifies the brightness of the reemitted light about 33,000-fold, and its interaction with the nanoparticles increases its efficiency in converting light by about 100 times.

The unique mix of expertise and capabilities at the Molecular Foundry, which included theoretical work and a mix of experiments, chemistry know-how, and well-honed synthetic techniques, made the latest study possible.

Read the full press release.