Chemistry Students Make Nanocrystalline Solar Cells
The students in the Honors section of the General Chemistry lab made nanocrystalline photovoltaic cells that will convert solar energy into electricity. Standard photovoltaic solar cells are constructed mainly of silicon doped with smaller amounts of other elements. Although the are commonly used, they are expensive to manufacture and have other limitations. The students made a solar cell using nanocrystalline titanium oxide (TiO2) which is very cheap (it’s the pigment in white paint). The only draw back is that it is colorless and does not convert visible light to electricity. To overcome this problem, the TiO2 is coated with an inorganic coordination complex, [Ru(2,2’-bipyridine)3]2+, which the students synthesized.