Canadian researchers modernize solar power with nano gold technology

Canadian researchers modernize solar power with nano gold technology

University of Western Ontario.

Scientists at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, have found a new way to improve solar cell performance by more than 10% by using a small molecule created with just 144 atoms of gold.

The findings, published Friday in the journal Nanoscale, represent a game-changing innovation that, according to the researchers, holds the potential to take solar power mainstream.

For Giovanni Fanchini, Canada Research Chair in Carbon-based Nanomaterials and Nano-optoelectronics, the discovery has an even more interesting potential: “It could dramatically decrease the world's dependence on traditional, resource-based sources of energy,” he said in a statement.

Canadian researchers modernize solar power with nano gold technology

Gold nanocluster.

He added the new technology could easily be fast-tracked and integrated into prototypes of solar panels in one to two years and solar-powered phones in as little as five years.

"Every time you recharge your cell phone, you have to plug it in," said Fanchini, an assistant professor in Western's Department of Physics and Astronomy. "What if you could charge mobile devices like phones, tablets or laptops on the go? Not only would it be convenient, but the potential energy savings would be significant."

The team has already started working with manufacturers of solar components to integrate their findings into existing solar cell technology and anticipate a working prototype “very soon.”