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Advancing Utah's Energy Future

BYU researchers discover process for improving solar panel technology

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Lana Medina – KUTV

BYU researchers believe they can harvest the energy of the sun for solar energy at almost double the rate of current solar panel technology.

It all has to do with particles so small you need a microscope to see them.

Physics undergraduate Stephen Erickson and fellow BYU graduate student Trevor Smith are part of a team that recently published a study involving nano-sized crystals.

The research suggests that solar cells based on these nanocrystals could make a big difference in solar energy conversion.

“A typical solar cell is maybe 10 to 25 percent solar efficient,” explained BYU associate chemistry professor Richard Watt.

But these nanocrystals could achieve up to 38 percent – a better way to provide solar energy.

Watt and Smith were using a protein called Ferritin to grow the tiny crystals. The chemistry researchers teamed up with BYU associate physics professor John Colton and one of his students, Stephen Erickson, to use the nanocrystals to capture specific wavelengths of light.

The research was published in the journal Nanotechnology, but now the next step is developing and testing out whether it actually produces more efficient solar energy. (…)

To read more, please visit KUTV.