With the advent of the new technological age, the extensive use of solar energy has come to signify the new stage of energy-saving attitudes among businesses and consumers. The more solar energy is used the more ecological and sustainable its users are being considered, but the use of solar energy, as well as development and production of solar energy equipment is not as cheap as it may seem. In reality, researchers actively work to create a new type of organic dyes, which would be used in solar cells to improve their cost-effectiveness and to expand the scope and volume of solar energy consumption worldwide.
The truth is in that organic dyes are gradually becoming essential components of solar cells, making them more effective and convenient in use. Simultaneously, “cheap and easy-to-make dye-sensitized solar cells are still in the early stages of commercial production” (Technology Review, 2008), and beyond the need to expand the range of organic dyes useful and applicable for various technological purposes, professionals are also seeking to develop the best, the cheapest, and the most effective organic dye that could substantially improve the quality and amount of energy generated and accumulated by solar cells.
Michael Gratzel is fairly regarded as the inventor of dye-sensitized solar cells, and it is due to Gratzel that chemists and physicists all over the world were given a unique opportunity to look deeper into the chemical capabilities and energy characteristics of such solar cells. Dye-sensitized solar cells consist of nanocrystals that are coated with dye molecules, which are light absorbing and which are usually immersed into an electrolytic solution, with the latter then sandwiched between the two glass panels and finally embedded in plastic (Technology Review, 2008).
In this situation, and it is not rare with solar cells, that under the impact of high temperatures, organic solvents used together with the electrolyte solutions either evaporate or leak out, which makes such solar cells absolutely impractical and unjustifiably expensive. Until present, traditional solar cells have been too expensive as organic dyes used to cover them did not allow preventing the loss of the energy and sunlight on its way to solar cells.
As a result, organic dyes that are currently being synthesized for the solar energy purposes could potentially resolve several issues at hand: to make solar cells cheaper; to improve their efficiency; to serve a reliable energy concentrator; and to prevent the loss of solar power. A year ago several engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, U. S. ‘described how to turn a window into a solar concentrator, by painting it with a mix of organic dyes and setting small solar cells around the edges” (Lee, 2008).
That discovery became the turning point in the slow evolution of solar energy systems around the world. Now, when the basic features of organic dyes have been described, and when researchers have finally realized the unlimited potential organic dyes might have with regard to saving and accumulating solar energy, the time has come to refine the existing techniques and to produce a completely new organic solution. For example, ionic liquids can be readily used as components of organic dyes, to guarantee stability of organic systems used for solar cells under different temperatures.
Moreover, bearing in mind that transition from laboratory to industrial manufacturing usually results in the overall loss of efficiency, significant improvements need to be done, to justify the costs and time spent in the process of developing organic dyes for solar cells. In their article, Shibano et al (2007) speak about the role, which electron-donating perylene tetracarboxylic acids could play for increasing the overall efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells; in this context, iPr-PMI is just one out of many potential solutions that could substantially increase the power conversion efficiency of solar cells.
Unfortunately, even in the light of these achievements, organic dyes are at the very first stages of their development and use. Synthesizing iPr-PMI for energy purposes could produce positive effects on the quality and amount of solar energy generated by solar cells, but without a detailed research and extensive investment, solar energy may forever remain an unachievable dream.
Courtney from Study Moose
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