Researchers led by chemist Xiaoyang Zhu at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered a method using quantum dots to capture the higher energy sunlight that is lost as heat in conventional solar cells.
If the higher energy sunlight, or more specifically the hot electrons, could be captured, solar-to-electric power conversion efficiency could be increased theoretically to as high as 66 percent.
A $4 million company, Evolution Solar, put out a press release about this research, but they are not actually connected to it. Evolution Solar is only in the same field of solar energy.
The researchers used quantum dots made of lead selenide, but Zhu says that their methods will work for quantum dots made of other materials, too.
He cautions that this is just one scientific step, and that more science and a lot of engineering need to be done before the world sees a 66 percent efficient solar cell.
In particular, there’s a third piece of the science puzzle that Zhu is working on: connecting to an electrical conducting wire.