Improving the efficiency of solar cells
Mathur, Saket Chand
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Peterson, Grace, Rashidi, Soheil, Mathur, Saket Chand, Wei, Wei. Improving the efficiency of solar cells. -- Fyre in STEM Showcase, 2021.
Solar energy is important to the search for viable renewable energy sources. Improving the efficiency, affordability, and stability of solar cells is critical to implementing them practically on a large scale. Currently, the most common material for counter electrodes in solar cells is platinum, an expensive metal. It was hypothesized that using carbon as the material for counter electrodes in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) would improve their efficiency. Carbon is a feasible option because of its affordability and low resistance. The DSSCs used in this experiment comprised a TiO2 photo electrode soaked in dye and a counter electrode, made of platinum for the control group and activated carbon for the experimental group, which were connected by an electrolyte solution to facilitate the flow of current. The I-V test (current-voltage test) was used to find the current and voltage when the solar cell was exposed to sunlight, and to calculate important parameters, including efficiency. The DSSCs with platinum counter electrodes had an average efficiency of 3.73%, with a standard deviation of 0.97. The first trial with activated carbon counter electrodes was inconclusive, with an average efficiency of 4.92% and a standard deviation of 4.46. The second trial had an average efficiency of 11.88% and a standard deviation of 2.48. These results demonstrate carbon's potential as a counter electrode material to improve the efficiency and affordability of solar cells. However, it is necessary to further support this conclusion by enlarging the sample size and testing other types of carbon.
Poster and abstract presented at the FYRE in STEM Showcase, 2021.
Research project completed at the Department of Mechanical Engineering.