0 Replies Latest reply: Jan 5, 2011 12:26 PM by Eavesdropper RSS

New solar cell can self-repair

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Researchers from Purdue University are designing a new type of solar cell that can repair itself like plants do by using carbon nanotubes and DNA. The design exploits the unusual electrical properties of structures called single-wall carbon nanotubes. Photoelectrochemical cells convert sunlight into electricity and use an electrolyte - a liquid that conducts electricity - to transport electrons and create the current. The cells contain light-absorbing dyes called chromophores, chlorophyll-like molecules that degrade due to exposure to sunlight. The new technology overcomes this problem just as nature does: by continuously replacing the photo-damaged dyes with new ones. The new concept could make possible an innovative type of photoelectrochemical cell that continues operating at full capacity indefinitely, as long as new chromophores are added. The carbon nanotubes work as a platform to anchor strands of DNA. The DNA is engineered to have specific sequences of building blocks called nucleotides, enabling them to recognize and attach to the chromophores. Two elements are critical for the technology to mimic nature's self-repair mechanism: molecular recognition and thermodynamic metastability, or the ability of the system to continuously be dissolved and reassembled. For more information please visit: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2011/110104ChoiSolar.html