Mimicking nature’s solar cells

US scientists have take inspiration from plants to create a water-based solar cells to convert light into electricity.

Plants efficiently use light to initiate reactions that produce energy in a process known as photosynthesis. Now Orlin Velev and colleagues at North Carolina State University, have created a hydrogel device to mimic this process to create electricity.

Flexible photovoltaic device uses water-based gel to generate electricity from sunlight

Flexible photovoltaic device uses water-based gel to generate electricity from sunlight

The device uses a 98 per cent water hydrogel doped with two photoactive dyes (9,10-dimethoxy-2-anthracenesulfonic acid and ruthenium trisbipyridine).The gel is layered between a copper foil electrode coated with carbon black and graphite and an indium tin oxide-coated plastic substrate serving as the other electrode. The dyes absorb light exciting the electrons into a higher energy state. Transport of the dyes through the hydrogel allows electrons and electron holes to be transferred to the two electrodes completing the circuit and generating a current.

To view the full Highlights in Chemical Science article, please click here: Mimicking nature’s solar cells

Link to journal article

Aqueous soft matter based photovoltaic devices
Hyung-Jun Koo, Suk Tai Chang, Joseph M. Slocik, Rajesh R. Naik and Orlin D. Velev, J. Mater. Chem., 2011
DOI:
10.1039/c0jm01820a

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