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The Warsaw Voice » Other » October 28, 2009
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Third-Generation Solar Cells
October 28, 2009   
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A group of researchers including Jacek Doskocz, a Ph.D. financially supported by the Foundation for Polish Science, is conducting research on third-generation solar cells as a more efficient alternative to traditional devices of its kind.

The researchers are working to develop low-cost and high-efficiency cells that they hope will contribute to the global fight against global warming.

Conductive polymers
A conductive polymer contains a conjugated system of double bonds, Doskocz says. The material may be used to make thin conductive films, which find application in solar cells as the layer which collects positive charges. Conductive polymers can also be used to produce textiles that do not pick up static electricity, in electronics as printed circuit boards, in optoelectronics as organic light emitting diodes (OLED), and in sensors.

Doskocz, who has won a scholarship from the Foundation for Polish Science's Start program, began conducting research into conductive polymers while working on his doctoral thesis. He used the latest molecular modeling techniques to design materials with the required properties. He gained experience in material synthesis and learned the latest chemical preparation methods during his stays at the University of Florida in Gainesville, in the United States.

Doskocz now works at the Institute of Low Temperature and Structure Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Wrocław where his research field is solar cells. He is also one of the editors of the biggest Polish website on nanotechnology run by the Nanonet Foundation for Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies. Although Doskocz is a chemist, he is a member of an interdisciplinary team of physicians led by Prof. Wiesław Stręk.

Luminescent solar concentrators
"We are working on third-generation solar cells in which a polymer is placed on a layer of nanoporous titanium dioxide, which in turn is placed on conductive glass," Doskocz says.

Traditional solar cells are inefficient because they do not use solar radiation to the full, Doskocz says. This explains why researchers have set their sights on luminescent solar concentrators (LSC), plastics that convert the radiation which cannot be used by a solar cell into a wavelength that the cell can use. An added advantage of the concentrators is that they make it possible to reduce the active surface of the solar cell-the cell can be mounted along the edges of a panel made of such a material.

"In my work, I make nanocomposite materials based on PMMA (Plexiglas), which I dope with nanopowders, quantum dots and organic compounds to improve the conversion process in which one wavelength is converted into another one," Doskocz says.

Many research projects are being carried out in this field across Europe, Doskocz says. The research is encouraged by organizations such as the European Union and environmental protection policies. For the time being, there are no cheap commercial alternatives to silicon solar cells, but many research teams, using different methods, are trying to develop such a technology, Doskocz says.
Piotr Bartosz
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