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Development of YBCO Superconductor for Electric Systems: Cooperative Research and Development Final Report, CRADA Number CRD-04-150

Description: The proposed project will be collaborative in exploration of high temperature superconductor oxide films between SuperPower, Inc. and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This CRADA will attempt to develop YBCO based high temperature oxide technology.
Date: March 1, 2013
Creator: Bhattacharya, R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Electrodeposited Ag-Stabilization Layer for High Temperature Superconducting Coated Conductors: Preprint

Description: We developed a non-aqueous based electrodepostion process of Ag-stabilization layer on YBCO superconductor tapes. The non-aqueous electroplating solution is non-reactive to the HTS layer thus does not detoriate the critical current capability of the superconductor layer when plated directly on the HTS tape. The superconducting current capabilities of these tapes were measured by non-contact magnetic measurements.
Date: November 1, 2010
Creator: Bhattacharya, R. N.; Mann, J.; Qiao, Y.; Zhang, Y. & Selvamanickam, V.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

NREL Improves Hole Transport in Sensitized CdS-NiO Nanoparticle Photocathodes (Fact Sheet)

Description: Significantly improved charge-collection efficiencies result from a general chemical approach to synthesizing photocathodes. It has been reported that a dye-sensitized nickel oxide (NiO) photocathode, when coupled to a dye-sensitized photoanode, could significantly increase overall solar conversion efficiency. However, the conversion efficiencies of these cells are still low. There has been much effort to improve the conversion efficiency by fabricating films with improved properties and developing more effective sensitizing dyes for p-type NiO. One of the factors limiting the use of NiO for solar cell application is the low hole conductivity in p-NiO. A team of researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) developed a general chemical approach to synthesize NiO-cadmium sulfide (CdS) core-shell nanoparticle films as photocathodes for p-type semiconductor-sensitized solar cells. Compared to dye-sensitized NiO photocathodes, the CdS-sensitized NiO cathodes exhibited two orders of magnitude faster hole transport (attributable to the passivation of surface traps by the CdS) and almost 100% charge-collection efficiencies.
Date: January 1, 2012
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Potential Benefits of Manmade Opals Demonstrated for First Time (Fact Sheet)

Description: NREL experiments show that disordered inverse opals significantly scatter and trap near-infrared light, with possible impact on optoelectronic materials. Inverse opals, familiar in the form of brilliantly colored opal gemstones, are a class of materials that has astounding optical properties. Scientists have been exploring the ability of inverse opals to manipulate light in the hopes of harnessing this capacity for advanced technologies such as displays, detectors, lasers, and photovoltaics. A research group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) discovered that man-made inverse opal films containing significant morphological disorder exhibit substantial light scattering, consequently trapping wavelengths in the near-infrared (NIR), which is important to a number of technologies. This discovery is the first experimental evidence to validate a 2005 theoretical model predicting the confinement of light in such structures, and it holds great promise for improving the performance of technologies that rely on careful light control. This breakthrough also makes possible optoelectronic technologies that use a range of low-cost molecular and semiconductor species that otherwise absorb light too weakly to be useful. The disordered inverse opal architecture validates the theoretical model that predicts the diffusion and confinement of light in such structures. Electrochemically deposited CdSe inverse opal films containing significant morphological disorder exhibit substantial light scattering and consequent NIR light trapping. This discovery holds promise for NIR light management in optoelectronic technologies, particularly those involving weakly absorbing molecular and semiconductor photomaterials.
Date: June 1, 2012
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

NREL Certifies First All-Quantum-Dot Photovoltaic Cell; Demonstrates Stability, Performance (Fact Sheet)

Description: Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have certified the first all-quantum-dot photovoltaic cell, which was based on lead sulfide and demonstrated reasonable quantum dot solar cell performance for an initial efficiency measurement along with good stability. The certified open-circuit voltage of the quantum dot cell is greater than that possible from bulk lead sulfide because of quantum confinement.
Date: February 1, 2011
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Optical Properties of Zn(O,S) Thin Films Deposited by RF Sputtering, Atomic Layer Deposition, and Chemical Bath Deposition: Preprint

Description: Zn(O,S) thin films 27 - 100 nm thick were deposited on glass or Cu(InxGa1-x)Se2/Molybdenum/glass with RF sputtering, atomic layer deposition, and chemical bath deposition.
Date: June 1, 2012
Creator: Li, J.; Glynn, S.; Christensen, S.; Mann, J.; To, B.; Ramanathan, K. et al.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Stability and Electronic Structures of CuxS Solar Cell Absorbers: Preprint

Description: Cu{sub x}S is one of the most promising solar cell absorber materials that has the potential to replace the leading thin-film solar cell material Cu(In,Ga)Se{sub 2} for high efficiency and low cost. In the past, solar cells based on Cu{sub x}S have reached efficiency as high as 10%, but it also suffers serious stability issues. To further improve its efficiency and especially the stability, it is important to understand the stability and electronic structure of Cu{sub x}S. However, due to the complexity of their crystal structures, no systematic theoretical studies have been carried out to understand the stability and electronic structure of the Cu{sub x}S systems. In this work, using first-principles method, we have systematically studied the crystal and electronic band structures of Cu{sub x}S (1.25 < x {le} 2). For Cu{sub 2}S, we find that all the three chalcocite phases, i.e., the low-chalcocite, the high-chalcocite, and the cubic-chalcocite phases, have direct bandgaps around 1.3-1.5 eV, with the low-chalcocite being the most stable one. However, Cu vacancies can form spontaneously in these compounds, causing instability of Cu{sub 2}S. We find that under Cu-rich condition, the anilite Cu{sub 1.75}S is the most stable structure. It has a predicted bandgap of 1.4 eV and could be a promising solar cell absorber.
Date: July 1, 2012
Creator: Wei, S. H.; Xu, Q.; Huang, B.; Zhao, Y.; Yan, Y. & Noufi, R.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Researchers Demonstrate Microstructure and Charge Yield in Semiconducting Polymers (Fact Sheet), NREL Highlights, Science

Description: Microstructure determines the yield of free charge in neat semiconducting polymers. Understanding the fundamental photophysics of poly(3-hyxylthiophene) films, and that of conjugated polymers in general, is essential if we are to realize their full potential as low-cost active layers for coal-competitive solar power generation. Yet, the value of one of the most basic photophysical parameters of these materials - the yield of free charges upon photoexcitation of neat films - has remained controversial because of a wide variation between previous measurements. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have resolved this controversy by showing that the yield of free charges depends sensitively on the solid-state microstructure of the film. The microstructure was varied systematically through control of the polymers molecular weight and processing conditions, while the charge carrier yield was measured using time-resolved microwave conductivity - a unique technique to which only a few groups in the world have access. The researchers found that the yield of long-lived free charges depends on the co-existence of amorphous and crystalline domains in the polymer, and this behavior was attributed to charge separation at the interface between these two domains of order.
Date: February 1, 2012
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Scientists Identify New Family of Iron-Based Absorber Materials for Solar Cells (Fact Sheet), NREL Highlights, Science

Description: Use of Earth-abundant materials in solar absorber films is critical for expanding the reach of photovoltaic (PV) technologies. The use of Earth-abundant and inexpensive Fe in PV was proposed more than 25 years ago in the form of FeS{sub 2} pyrite - fool's gold. Unfortunately, the material has been plagued by performance problems that to this day are both persistent and not well understood. Researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Oregon State University, working collaboratively in the Center for Inverse Design, an Energy Frontier Research Center, have uncovered several new insights into the problems of FeS{sub 2}. They have used these advances to propose and implement design rules that can be used to identify new Fe-containing materials that can circumvent the limitations of FeS{sub 2} pyrite. The team has identified that it is the unavoidable metallic secondary phases and surface defects coexisting near the FeS{sub 2} thin-film surfaces and grain boundaries that limit its open-circuit voltage, rather than the S vacancies in the bulk, which has long been commonly assumed. The materials Fe{sub 2}SiS{sub 4} and Fe{sub 2}GeS{sub 4} hold considerable promise as PV absorbers. The ternary Si compound is especially attractive, as it contains three of the more abundant low-cost elements available today. The band gap (E{sub g} = 1.5 eV) from both theory and experiment is higher than those of c-Si and FeS{sub 2}, offering better absorption of the solar spectrum and potentially higher solar cell efficiencies. More importantly, these materials do not have metallic secondary phase problems as seen in FeS{sub 2}. High calculated formation energies of donor-type defects are consistent with p-type carriers in thin films and are prospects for high open-circuit voltages in cells.
Date: October 1, 2011
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Scientists Identify New Quaternary Materials for Solar Cell Absorbers (Fact Sheet), NREL Highlights, Science

Description: Research provides insight for exploring use of earth-abundant quaternary semiconductors for large-scale solar cell applications. For large-scale solar electricity generation, it is critical to find new material that is Earth abundant and easily manufactured. Previous experimental studies suggest that Cu{sub 2}ZnSnS{sub 4} could be a strong candidate absorber materials for large-scale thin-film solar cells due to its optimal bandgap, high adsorption coefficient, and ease of synthesis. However, due to the complicated nature of the quaternary compound, it is unclear whether other quaternary compounds have physical properties suitable for solar cell application. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Fudan University, and University College London have performed systematic searches of quaternary semiconductors using a sequential cation mutation method in which the material properties of the quaternary compounds can be derived and understood through the evolution from the binary, to ternary, and to quaternary compounds. The searches revealed that in addition to Cu{sub 2}ZnSnS{sub 4}, Cu{sub 2}ZnGeSe{sub 4} and Cu{sub 2}ZnSnSe{sub 4} are also suitable quaternary materials for solar cell absorbers. Through the extensive study of defect and alloy properties of these materials, the researchers propose that to maximize solar cell performance, growth of Cu{sub 2}ZnSnS{sub 4} under Cu-poor/Zn-rich conditions will be optimal and the formation of Cu{sub 2}ZnSn(S,Se){sub 4} alloy will be beneficial in improving solar cell performance.
Date: October 1, 2011
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

New Fabrication Method Improves the Efficiency and Economics of Solar Cells (Fact Sheet)

Description: Synthetic fabrication strategy optimizes the illumination geometry and transport properties of dye-sensitized solar cells. Using oriented titanium oxide (TiO{sub 2}) nanotube (NT) arrays has shown promise for dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). High solar conversion efficiency requires that the incident light enters the cell from the photoelectrode side. However, for NT-based DSSCs, the light normally enters the cell through the counter electrode because a nontransparent titanium foil is typically used as the substrate for forming the aligned NTs and for making electrical contact with them. It has been synthetically challenging to prepare transparent TiO{sub 2} NT electrodes by directly anodizing Ti metal films on transparent conducting oxide (TCO) substrates because it is difficult to control the synthetic conditions. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers have developed a general synthetic strategy for fabricating transparent TiO{sub 2} NT films on TCO substrates. With the aid of a conducting Nb-doped TiO{sub 2} (NTO) layer between the Ti film and TCO substrate, the Ti film can be anodized completely without degrading the TCO. The NTO layer protects the TCO from degradation through a self-terminating mechanism by arresting the electric field-assisted dissolution process at the NT-NTO interface. NREL researchers found that the illumination direction and wavelength of the light incident on the DSSCs strongly influenced the incident photon-to-current conversion efficiency, light-harvesting, and charge-collection properties, which, in turn, affect the photocurrent density, photovoltage, and solar energy conversion efficiency. Researchers also examined the effects of NT film thickness on the properties and performance of DSSCs and found that illuminating the cell from the photoelectrode side substantially increased the conversion efficiency compared with illuminating it from the counter-electrode side. This method solves a key challenge in fabricating NT-based DSSCs and determines an optimal illumination direction to use in these cells. The synthetic fabrication strategy will improve the economics and ...
Date: July 1, 2012
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

NREL Researchers Demonstrate External Quantum Efficiency Surpassing 100% in a Quantum Dot Solar Cell (Fact Sheet)

Description: A new device that produces and collects multiple electrons per photon could yield inexpensive, high-efficiency photovoltaics. A new device developed through research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reduces conventional losses in photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, potentially increasing the power conversion efficiency-but not the cost-of the solar cells. Solar cells convert optical energy from the sun into usable electricity; however, almost 50% of the incident energy is lost as heat with present-day technologies. High-efficiency, multi-junction cells reduce this heat loss, but their cost is significantly higher. NREL's new device uses excess energy in solar photons to create extra charges rather than heat. This was achieved using 5-nanometer-diameter quantum dots of lead selenide (PbSe) tightly packed into a film. The researchers chemically treated the film, and then fabricated a device that yielded an external quantum efficiency (number of electrons produced per incident photon) exceeding 100%, a value beyond that of all current solar cells for any incident photon. Quantum dots are known to efficiently generate multiple excitons (a bound electron-hole pair) per absorbed high-energy photon, and this device definitively demonstrates the collection of multiple electrons per photon in a PV cell. The internal quantum efficiency corrects for photons that are not absorbed in the photoactive layer and shows that the PbSe film generates 30% to 40% more electrons in the high-energy spectral region than is possible with a conventional solar cell. While the unoptimized overall power conversion efficiency is still low (less than 5%), the results have important implications for PV because such high quantum efficiency can lead to more electrical current produced than possible using present technologies. Furthermore, this fabrication is also amenable to inexpensive, high-throughput roll-to-roll manufacturing.
Date: December 1, 2011
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

NREL Scientists Reveal Origin of Diverse Melting Behaviors of Aluminum Nanoclusters (Fact Sheet)

Description: Research reveals active role of cluster symmetries on the size-sensitive, diverse melting behaviors of metallic nanoclusters, providing insight to understanding phase changes of nanoparticles for thermal energy storage. Unlike macroscopic bulk materials, intermediate-sized nanoclusters with around 55 atoms inherently exhibit size-sensitive melting changes: adding just a single atom to a nanocluster can cause a dramatic change in melting behavior. Microscopic understanding of thermal behaviors of metal nanoclusters is important for nanoscale catalysis and thermal energy storage applications. However, it is a challenge to obtain a structural interpretation at the atomic level from measured thermodynamic quantities such as heat capacity. Using ab initio molecular dynamics simulations, scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) revealed a clear correlation between the diverse melting behaviors of aluminum nanoclusters and cluster core symmetries. These simulations reproduced, for the first time, the size-sensitive heat capacities of aluminum nanoclusters, which exhibit several distinctive shapes associated with the diverse melting behaviors of the clusters. The size-dependent, diverse melting behaviors of the aluminum clusters are attributed to the reduced symmetry (from Td {yields} D2d {yields} Cs) with increasing the cluster sizes and can be used to help design thermal storage materials.
Date: October 1, 2011
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Density Functional Theory Simulations Predict New Materials for Magnesium-Ion Batteries (Fact Sheet), NREL Highlights, Science

Description: Multivalence is identified in the light element, B, through structure morphology. Boron sheets exhibit highly versatile valence, and the layered boron materials may hold the promise of a high-energy-density magnesium-ion battery. Practically, boron is superior to previously known multivalence materials, especially transition metal compounds, which are heavy, expensive, and often not benign. Based on density functional theory simulations, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have predicted a series of stable magnesium borides, MgB{sub x}, with a broad range of stoichiometries, 2 < x < 16, by removing magnesium atoms from MgB{sub 2}. The layered boron structures are preserved through an in-plane topological transformation between the hexagonal lattice domains and the triangular domains. The process can be reversibly switched as the charge transfer changes with Mg insertion/extraction. The mechanism of such a charge-driven transformation originates from the versatile valence state of boron in its planar form. The discovery of these new physical phenomena suggests the design of a high-capacity magnesium-boron battery with theoretical energy density 876 mAh/g and 1550 Wh/L.
Date: October 1, 2011
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department

Improving PbS Quantum Dot Solar Cell Power Conversion Efficiency to an NREL-Certified 4.4% (Fact Sheet)

Description: Transition metal oxide improves overall efficiency and maintains performance with inexpensive metals. A research team at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has demonstrated that inserting a transition metal oxide (TMO) between the lead sulfide (PbS) quantum dot (QD) layer and the metal electrode eliminates the Schottky barrier that impedes efficient hole extraction and thereby improves the overall conversion efficiency. This allows for inexpensive metals such as Al to be employed without loss of performance. n-type TMOs consisting of molybdenum oxide (MoO{sub x}) and vanadium oxide (V{sub 2}O{sub x}) were used as an efficient hole extraction layer (HEL) in heterojunction ZnO/PbS QD solar cells. A 4.4% NREL-certified device was reported based on the MoO{sub x} HEL with Al as the back contact material, representing a more than 65% efficiency improvement compared with the case of Au contacting the PbS QD layer directly. The team finds the acting mechanism of the HEL to be a dipole formed at the MoO{sub x} and PbS interface, which enhances band bending to allow efficient hole extraction from the valence band of the PbS layer by MoO{sub x}. The carrier transport to the metal anode is likely enhanced through shallow gap states in the MoO{sub x} layer.
Date: January 1, 2012
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department