Grätzel Cell: A Dye-Sensitized Solar Energy Device Comes Into Its Own

A small solar cell with a great potential for the future.

A small solar cell with a great potential for the future.

Researchers in China and Switzerland are reporting the highest efficiency ever for a promising new genre of solar cells, which many scientists think offer the best hope for making the sun a mainstay source of energy in the future. The photovoltaic cells, called dye-sensitized solar cells or Grätzel cells, could expand the use of solar energy for homes, businesses, and other practical applications, the scientists say.
Chemist Michael Grätzel has developed a solar cell that, like plants, generates energy from sunlight by using a dye. The cell was patented in 1992 and is now being produced commercially at a pilot facility.
Its production costs are low thanks to the absence of expensive semiconductor materials. Another advantage is that the cell works with relatively weak, diffuse light. Grätzel has now won a prestigious award for his invention.
Report by Barbara Vonarburg

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