The GREEnMat laboratory of ULiège has just announced its active participation in the QDSOC LEAP-RE (Long-term Europe-Africa Partnership on Renewable Energy) project entitled "Environmentally friendly colloidal quantum dots for high-performance solar cells". This project, launched in May 2022, aims to develop new materials for photovoltaic cells to make tomorrow's solar panels more efficient while lowering the cost of producing clean and renewable electricity.
photovoltaic (PV) cell is a device that converts sunlight, which is a clean and reliable form of renewable energy, into electricity. One of the project's main goals is to achieve a power conversion efficiency value above 15%, which would constitute a ground-breaking performance for heavy metal-free PV cells.
The project also addresses the need to develop a reliable stand‐alone system architecture that can be easily and widely deployed in off‐grid African rural and remote areas, granting access to clean and affordable energy for remote communities.
The project fully meets EU objectives of finding new materials, better designing PV cells to make solar panels more efficient, and lowering the cost of generating clean and renewable electricity. It seeks to put Africa and Europe at the forefront of renewable energy technologies worldwide and enable market breakthroughs for Quantum Dots-Sensitized Solar Cells (QDSSCs).
The project in more detail
Quantum dots (QDs) are nanocrystals exhibiting a tunable bandgap as a result of size and/or composition variation and have been demonstrated to be of high interest in PV applications. Moreover, QDSSCs present promising cost-effective alternatives to conventional silicon-based solar cells due to their outstanding properties, such as simplicity in fabrication, the possibility to absorb light in wide solar spectrum regions, and theoretical conversion efficiency up to 44%.
QDSOC aims to develop new QDSSCs using heavy metal-free QDs as absorbing material in the visible and infrared regions for optimal use of the solar spectrum. Full solid-state devices will be engineered and assembled in Belgium (ULiège-GREEnMat) and Morocco. Their photoconversion behaviour and (opto)electronic properties will be deeply investigated to better understand the relations between the microstructural, light absorption and charge transfer properties of the materials developed.
New synthetic routes of QDs will be developed by South African and French partners, and prototypes of larger scale devices will also be investigated by the Moroccan partner as a proof of concept.
The project also enables a strong collaboration between the partners and contributes to the training of young scientists (recruited PhD students and researchers) who will become leaders in this research field shortly, thus promoting capacity building.
Specific expected results include:
- Developing new syntheses of Ag-In-Zn-Se and CsSnX3-xYx QDs with optimal electronic and optical properties for use in QDSSCs ;
- Optimizing the structure and the electronic properties of the dense TiO2 layer via magnetron sputtering and of the porous TiO2 layer by wet based templating strategies ;
- Controlling the microstructure of the TiO2 porous network, in order to form continuous and highly condensed interpenetrating nanochannels allowing to optimize the interface between the QDs and the TiO2 photoelectrode, maximize QDs to TiO2 charge injection and minimize recombination ;
- Studying the charge transfer properties of Ag-In-Zn-Se and CsSnX3-xYx as well as their interaction with TiO2 to further boost the QDSSCs efficiency.
- University of Lorraine (France) - Coordinator
- Mohammed V University of Rabat (Morocco)
- Mohammed VI Polytechnic University - UM6P (Morocco)
- University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)
- University of Liege (Belgium)
QDSOC has a total budget for the 3 years of the project (via local funding) of 846 936,67 €.
Visit the project website