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Nanoparticle Breakthrough Could Capture Unseen Light for Solar Energy Conversion
An international team of scientists led by Foundry researchers has discovered the mechanism of how coating nanoparticles with organic dyes greatly enhances their ability to capture near-infrared light and to reemit it in the visible light spectrum.
Significance and Impact
This study is 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 researchers found that the organic dye itself amplifies the brightness of the reemitted light about 33,000-fold, and its efficiency in converting light by about 100 times.
- The proximity of the dyes to the lanthanides in the nanoparticles enhances the presence of a dye state known as a “triplet,” which then transfers its energy to the lanthanides more efficiently.
- Increasing the concentration of lanthanide metals in the nanoparticles increased the triplet effect and improved the nanoparticles’ light-converting properties.
- The dyes act as molecular-scale solar concentrators, funneling energy from near-infrared photons into the nanoparticles, but are themselves transparent to visible light and allow other usable light to pass.
D.J. Garfield, N.J. Borys, S.M. Hamed, N.A. Torquato, C.A. Tajon, B. Tian, B. Shevitski, E.S. Barnard, Y.D. Suh, S. Aloni, J.B. Neaton, E.M. Chan, B.E. Cohen, P.J. Schuck. Nature Photonics (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41566-018-0156-x