• UQ researchers have claimed to have achieved 16.6% power conversion efficiency for quantum dot solar cells
  • It is a gain of almost 25% over previous record of 13.4%, and has been independently confirmed by the NREL
  • The team mainly addressed the challenge of unstable and rough quantum dot surface by developing flexible and printable cells through a unique surface engineering strategy

Researchers at the University of Queensland (UQ) have claimed achieving 16.6% efficiency for quantum dot solar cells, beating the previous world record of 13.4% for the the technology with almost 25% improvement. This is a significant gain considering the various uses for these cells when converted into thin, flexible films that can be pasted on a number of surfaces to generate electricity.

Independent testing by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has recognized the 16.6% efficiency level achieved by UQ for this technology. The findings have been published in the journal Nature Energy.

Quantum dots are tiny nanoparticles that pass electrons between one another and generate electric current in a solar cell when facing sunlight. But because their surface is rough and unstable, quantum dots are limited in their ability to generate electricity. The UQ researchers dealt with this challenge by developing a unique surface engineering strategy that makes them flexible and printable.

Referring to the near 25% gain in two efficiency levels, the research team lead Professor Lianzhou Wang said this is effectively the difference between quantum dot solar cell technology being an exciting ‘prospect’ and being commercial viable.

“This opens up a huge range of potential applications, including the possibility to use it as a transparent skin to power cars, planes, homes and wearable technology,” emphasized Wang. “Eventually it could play a major part in meeting the United Nations’ goal to increase the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.”