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EME4353: Advanced Engineering

Materials Assignment 1
Student Name
Student ID

: Shakil Ahmed
: SCM - 022732

Date of submission : 24/10/2016


: Dr. Lai
: B.Eng (Hons) Mechanical

An issue for the human kind in this era is the switching from fossil energy to green (reliable)
energy. Present solar power generation has no competition to natural resources. Solar cells used
today are not effective enough and are very expensive to manufacture on mega scale electricity
production. Nowadays, technical improvements in nanotech giving hope to produce cheaper and
a bit more effective solar cells. Cheap solar cells would also help provide electricity for rural
under developed areas and countries. The solar technology sector has fast development in few
years because solid grounds in green energy and arising complication of climate change. Nanotechnology is proven to be a successor in solar panels. Nano-technology is able to improve the
efficiency of solar cells, but the advantage of nanotechnology over current technology is the
cutting of manufacturing cost. Nanotechnology can help preserve the environment as the cost
reduction factor. In this report the over review of nanotechnology used in solar cells and their
drawbacks. The impacts of Nano technology on the society are also discussed.

Reusable energy is considered as very important globally. Solar cells or photovoltaic, in other
words converting the Suns energy into useful power [1,2] .When talking about solar products
which use nanotech it is very important to know the how does a traditional solar cell works.
Normal solar cells are known as photovoltaic cells, they contain a semi-conducting material that
ois basically silicon. When these silicon cells are exposed to light, they can use the solar energy
by photons. This trapped energy excites electrons in the silicon, making them to flow. Mixing
different substances to the silicon i.e boron or phosphorus, an electric field is made. A diode like
electric field is established and allowing the excited electrons to flow in only one direction [1].
And at last the result is flow of electrons also known as current hence electricity
The traditional solar cells basically have two major disadvantages i.e these cells have really low
efficiencies only about 10 percent and have high cost manufacturing. The main drawback, nonefficient that cant be avoided with silicon cells. This is due to the receiving energy or the light
that need to hit the electron, called the band gap energy. It has to be perfect light condition
because if there is low energy than the band gap energy then it will go just pass it and if it has
high energy than the band gap energy, then it is wasted as heat. Well the two effects are the
reason behind the loss of about seventy percent energy of the cell [3] .
Nano particles are matter that is ten to thousands of width smaller than a human hair . Due to
their size, a large portion of nano particles' atoms lay on the surface rather than deep inside. The
surface tension is very low for nano materials . This is the reason; they often have unique
properties compare to larger portion of the same material.

Nano-technology is the answer to the problems faced by solar cells that it can certainly improve
efficiency and decrease total cost to manufacture these cells[4]. Studies and many research are
made on nanostructured materials for their unique characteristics for photovoltaic. There are
mainly three advantages of nanostructured films of solar cells . First is the multiple reflections,
its makes an effective optical mode for absorbing more light or energy than the standard film
thickness. Secondly, the ejected electrons only need to travel a short distance and thus it the
overall losses it greatly reduced due to trapped light making it optical path. Making the thickness
of absorbing layer in nano-structured solar cells can be as thin as 140 nm than the traditional thin
film solar cells that is just few micrometers. Thirdly the various layers of energy band gap can be
altered to the desired design value by changing the size of nano-particles. This makes the design
flexible in the absorbing layers in the solar cells [5].

Present solar cells can not make use of all the absorbed sunlight and convert them into electricity
because some light can escape back into the atmosphere or wasted as heat. Moreover sunlight
comes in different colors and the solar cell might be good in converting blue pattern light while
bad at converting red pattern light. Low energy light can just pass through the cell unused and
High energy light make electrons excite to the conduct, but any of the energy beyond the band
gap energy is just heat or considered waste. If these fresh excited electrons arent used and
directed, they will quickly emerge in holes made and the energy will be lost as heat or light [9] .
Nanotech maybe the solution of making efficient solar cells, but the main advantage of
nanotechnology over other methods is the low of manufacturing cost. Scientist at the University
of California, Berkeley, managed a method to make cheaper plastic solar cells that can be painted
on any surface. These new plastic solar paint makes efficiencies of only around 2 percent;
however, Paul Alivisatos, a professor of chemistry at UC Berkeley states,
"This technology has the potential to do a lot better. There is a pretty clear path for us to take to
make this perform much better [12,13].
The new plastic solar cells using tiny nanorods mixed within in a plastic. These nanorods act as
electric wires because the absorbed light of a specific wave-length they generate electrons in the
cells. The emitted electrons flow through the Nano rods where they meet aluminum electrode
and then are joined to form a current and can be used as electricity. [12,13].

Figure 1. The sample picture of Nanorods

The type of cell pictured above is very cheap to produce than traditional ones for two reasons.
Firstly, this is the plastic cell and is not made from silicon, which is quite expensive to
manufacture. Second, making one of these cells does not need expensive and sensitive
equipment for example vacuum chambers or clean rooms for normal silicon solar cells. Infact
these new plastic cells can be made in a simple beaker.
A great advantage of these new solar cells is that the nanorods can be tuned to absorb and use
various wave-lengths of light to produce current as this would boost the efficiency of overall cell.
Mentioned in a 2001 report, The Societal Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology,
by the National Science Foundation, if the efficiency of photovoltaic cells was improved by a
factor of two using nanotechnology, The role of solar energy would grow substantially[14].

Figure 2. A diagram of a nano solar cell.

Table 1.A comparison of different photovoltaic cells of different types

This must be a inexpensive revolution in the electronics industry. Now these new nano solar cells
can be installed into the clothes and programmed or designed to be used for both indoor light and

1) Inexpensive Nano solar cells would help provide power for underdeveloped areas and nations.
As the electricity demand in these rural areas is not high, and the areas are divided out, it is not
reasonable to connect them and have electric grid. Hence, this is a best condition for solar energy
2) Painting or coating house roof with the plastic photovoltaic cells which is cheap and could be
used to power about full or some parts of house. If this would be in practice by many houses
there would be less need of natural resources and would help to reduce pollution.
5) Bendable and roller solar cells have the advantage to turn the sun's power into a pure,
reusable, reliable source of energy . Even though the efficiency of Plastic photovoltaic solar cell
is not very reliable but painting cars with Plastic photovoltaic solar cells or making solar cell
windows can generate the power and save fuel and reduction in the emission of carbon gases.

[1] Aldous, Scott. How Solar Cells Work. How Stuff Works. 22 May 2005.
[2] The Institute of Nanotechnology (2006). Road Maps forNanotechnology in Energy.
Nanoroadmap (NRM) Project Working Paper.
[3] Nayfeh, Thin film silicon nanoparticle UV photodetector IEEE Photonics Technology,
Volume 16, Issue 8, Pages 1927-1929, August 2004
[4] Escolano, C., Prez, J., Bax, L. (2005). Roadmap Report on Thin films & coatings.
Nanoroadmap (NRM) Project Working Paper.
[5] Singha, R., Rangarib, V., Sanagapallia, S., Jayaramana, V., Mahendraa, S., Singha, V.
(2004).Nano-structured CdTe, CdS and TiO2 for thin film solar cell applications. Solar Energy
Materials & Solar Cells, 82, 315- 330.
[6] Chopra1, K., Paulson, P. and Dutta1, V. (2004). Thin-Film Solar Cells: An Overview.
Progress in Photovoltaics,12, 69-92.
[7] Konenkamp, R., Dloczik, L., Ernst, K., Olesch, C. (2002), Nanostructures for solar cells with
extremely thin absorbers. Physica E, 14(1-2), 219-223.
[8] Paul Preuss. An unexpected discovery could yield a full spectrum solarcell.Research News.
Berkeley Lab. 18 November 2002
[9] M. Topinka Carbon nanotube electrodes for solar cells. SPRC Workshop: Solar Cell
Technology Options: Paths to Lower $ per Watt, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. (Feb. 24,
[10] K.R. Catchpole and A. Polman Plasmonic Solar Cells,", OpticsExpress, Vol. 16, Issue 6,
December 22, 2008, Focus Issue on SolarEnergy edited by Alan Kost, University of Arizona.
[11] B.J.Landi, R.P. Raffaelle , S.L.Castro , S.G.Bailey ,C.M.Evans (May2005) CdSe quantum
dot single Wall carbon nanotube complexes for polymeric solar cell Solar Energy Materials and
Solar Cells 87(1-4): 733-746.
[12] Sanders, Bob. Cheap, Plastic Solar Cells May Be On The Horizon. UC Berkeley Campus
News. 28 March2002.
[13] Claudio Pelosi and Matteo Bosi. Light concentration increases solarcell efficiency and
reduces cost ,17 May 2007, SPIE Newsroom. DOI: 10.1117/2.1200704.0689.

< s/2002/03/28_solar.html>.
[14] Societal Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. National Science Foundation.
March 2001.