Nanotubes are an exciting technology with many potential applications, one of them, solar power. Now researchers at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have determined that single-walled carbon nanotubes could be semiconductors for next generation organic solar cells because they could potentially convert sunlight into electricity with little energy loss.
The lab explained that most organic photovoltaics create electricity through a process of electron transfer that requires structurally reorganizing bonds within the device. Using fullerene molecules and single-walled carbon nanotubes the researchers were able to reduce energy loss in the device.
Researchers published their results “Tuning the driving force for exciton dissociation in single-walled carbon nanotube heterojunctions” in the journal Nature Chemistry. "What we find in our study is this particular system—nanotubes with fullerenes—have an exceptionally low reorganization energy and the nanotubes themselves probably have very, very low reorganization energy," said Jeffrey Blackburn, a senior scientist at NREL and research co-author. His co-authors include Rachelle Ihly, Kevin Mistry, Andrew Ferguson, Obadiah Reid, and Garry Rumbles from NREL, and Olga Boltalina, Tyler Clikeman, Bryon Larson, and Steven Strauss from Colorado State University.
NREL said that the research was based on work from Rudolph Marcus. Marcus won a Nobel Prize for his work on developing a fundamental tenet of physical chemistry that explains the rate at which an electron can move from one chemical to another. This is one of the first times his formulation is being used to study photoinduced electron transfer for emerging organic semiconductors, according to the lab.Tweet