COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 6 (UPI) — Ohio State University scientists say they are using silver nanoparticles in research designed to lead to lighter, cheaper and more flexible solar cells.
The scientists say they’re experimenting with polymer semiconductors that absorb the sun’s energy and generate electricity. They report discovering that adding tiny bits of silver to the plastic boosts the materials’ electrical current generation.
The team, led by physics Professor Paul Berger, said it measured the amount of light absorbed by an experimental solar cell polymer with and without silver nanoparticles. They also measured the solar cell’s current density — the amount of electrical current generated per square centimeter.
The scientists said without silver, the material generated 6.2 milliamps per square centimeter. With silver, it generated 7.0 milliamps — an increase of nearly 12 percent.
Berger said the small silver particles help the polymer capture a wider range of wavelengths of sunlight than would normally be possible, which in turn increases the current output. He said the technology could eventually go a long way toward making polymer solar cells commercially viable.
The study is reported in the early online edition of the journal Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International