Leicester electrician excited that ‘decorated’ nanowires may lead to improved solar cell and battery efficiency

Engineers at Stanford University, California, are developing a new approach designed to improve the efficiency of  solar cells and batteries

By “decorating” nanowires with chains of nanoparticles the process increases the surface area of the wires, thus improving their catalytic activity. The development may lead to better lithium-ion batteries and more efficient solar cells, according to a study published in the journal Nano Letters.

Xiaolin Zheng, one of the study’s authors, said: “You can think of it like a tree. The nanowires are the trunk, very good at transporting electrons, like sap, but limited in surface area. The added nanoparticle decorations, as we call them, are like the branches and leaves, which fan out and greatly increase the surface area.”

The ‘decoration’ technique involves dipping the nanowires in a solvent-based gel of metal and salt. They are then air-dried and a quick burst of flame then applied. The result of this is a ‘bejeweled’ nanowire covered with a coating of metal nanoparticles – it looks a lot like a pipe cleaner when viewed under a spectroscope or microscope.

Although this process is still in the early stages of testing, Sun Cho, a post-doctoral fellow in Zheng’s lab, said: “the performance improvements have so far been dramatic.”

PB Ross undertake solar panel installations across the East Midlands and nationwide, for domestic and commercial properties. As the leading midlands electrical contractor we encourage the development and application of this clean energy alternative. Call Pete Ross on 0116 277 3162 today to discuss solar panel installation, or email him here.

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