Nanotubes harness solar power

Researchers at PennStateUniversity have found new ways of harnessing solar power using highly ordered arrays of titania nanotubes.

The research group have released a report proposing new methods of harnessing the power of the sun using the nanotubes for hydrogen production and increased solar cell efficiency.

They have created a material with highly ordered titanium nanotube arrays which, under UV illumination, gives a photoconversion efficiency of 13.1%. The next step would be to shift its bandwidth into the visible spectrum which would provide a commercially practical means of generating hydrogen by solar energy.

The highly ordered nanotube arrays can also be used on the negative electrode in dye solar cells.

According to the authors, they provide excellent pathways for electron percolation, in effect acting as ‘electron highways’ for directing the photo-generated electrons to where they can do useful work. Their results suggest that simply increasing the length of the nanotube arrays could make highly efficient dye solar cells will result in an increase in solar cell efficiency.