The Daresbury-based nanomaterials innovator has been awarded a share of up to £1 million to demonstrate how INFIQ lead-free quantum dots (INFIQ LF-QDs) could help to revolutionise the solar cell market.
The funding, supplied by Innovate UK’s Resource Efficiency for Materials and Manufacturing (REforMM) grant, will enable Quantum Science to fabricate lab-scale photovoltaic devices using its bespoke QD ink system, then test them in a solar simulator to demonstrate their performance and cost effectiveness.
The project aims to overcome existing barriers to solar panel efficiency by proving that INFIQ LF-QD ink technology is a scalable solution that can safely and efficiently help convert visible and infrared light into electricity.
Dr Hao Pang, CEO and Founder of Quantum Science, said, “Colloidal QDs show great promise for producing the next generation of photovoltaic technologies. These nanoscale materials are sensitive to infrared light – a mostly untapped area for current solar cells – and can generate multiple excitons per incoming photon, significantly increasing the amount of energy that a solar cell can produce.
“Quantum dots have previously been explored as an option for enhancing solar cell efficiencies, but until now they have been held back by complex fabrication processes and toxic heavy metal components. Using Quantum Science’s smart material design, we can overcome the traditional challenges of QD film coatings, allowing QDs to be deposited in a controlled process that is suitable for mass production. As a result, we will be able to produce environmentally friendly, high-performing QDs at a large enough scale to supply the solar cell market.”
Existing silicon solar cells and other emerging photovoltaic materials are limited in efficiency as they are mostly incapable of harvesting infrared sunlight wavelengths.
Integrating INFIQ LF-QD inks into tandem solar cells can make the solar cells sensitive to infrared wavelengths, potentially boosting solar cell efficiencies to over the single junction Shockley-Queisser limit (30%).
The most efficient QD solar cells currently available are based on lead-containing materials, which are subject to hazardous substances restrictions due to their potential impact on human health and the environment that have limited their widespread use.
The development of efficient and environmentally friendly solar cell technologies is seen as a critical component for achieving a sustainable energy future. Quantum Science’s lead-free INFIQ QDs offer a more sustainable solution that are low cost and easily scalable, as their single-layer synthesis process reduces waste and minimises the risk of error formation.
Quantum Science’s REforMM project will start from 1 June 2023 and run for six months.