Researchers at the University of Basel have successfully replaced the rare element iodine in copper-based dye-sensitized solar cells by the more abundant element cobalt, taking a step forward in
the development of environmentally friendly energy production. The journal Chemical Communications has published the results of these so-called Cu-Co cells.
Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) transform light to electricity. They consist of a semiconductor on which a dye is anchored. This colored complex absorbs light and through an electron transfer process produces electrical current. Electrolytes act as electron transport agents inside the DSCs.
Usually, iodine and iodide serve as an electrolyte. Chemists at the University of Basel have now been able to successfully replace the usual iodine-based electron transport system in copper-based DSCs by a cobalt compound. Tests showed no loss in performance.
The replacement of iodine significantly increases the sustainability of solar cells: "Iodine is a rare element, only present at a level of 450 parts per billion in the Earth, whereas cobalt is 50 times more abundant", explains the Project Officer Dr. Biljana Bozic-Weber. Furthermore, this replacement also removes one of the long-term degradation processes in which copper compounds react with the electrolyte to form copper iodide and thus improves the long-term stability of DSCs.
The research group around the Basel chemistry professors Ed Constable and Catherine Housecroft is currently working on optimizing the performance of DSCs based on copper complexes. They had previously shown in 2012 that the very rare element ruthenium in solar cells could be replaced by copper derivatives.
This is the first report of DSCs, which combine copper-based dyes and cobalt electrolytes and thus represents a critical step towards the development of stable iodide-free copper solar cells. However, many aspects relating to the efficiency need to be addressed before commercialization can begin in anything other than niche markets.
Molecular Systems Engineering
"In changing any one component of these solar cells, it is necessary to optimize all other parts as a consequence", says Ed Constable. This is part of a new approach termed Molecular Systems Engineering in which all molecular and material components of a system can be integrated and optimized to approach new levels of sophistication in nanoscale machinery. In this publication, the engineering of the electrolyte, the dye and the semiconductor are all described.
This systems chemistry approach is particularly appropriate for the engineering of inorganic-biological hybrids and is the basis of ongoing collaborations with the ETH Department of Biosystems Engineering in Basel (D-BSSE) and EMPA. A joint proposal by the University of Basel and D-BSSE for a new National Centre of Competence in Research in this area is currently in the final stages of appraisal.
Firehouse Subs is now open for business in Yuma at 1630 S. Pacific Ave. Restaurant hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. The “fast casual chain” is home to such favorite sandwiches as the Hook & Ladder and also features a wide variety beverages.
Franchise owners are Chris Miller and Lisa Meyer. It is the first of three Firehouse Subs locations planned for Yuma and El Centro in the next 18 months. In addition to Firehouse Subs, Miller and Meyer own and operate multiple Buffalo Wild Wings throughout Arizona.
The authentic firehouse setting for Firehouse Subs is based on the founding family’s decades of fire and police service, and the new location is decorated with firefighter memorabilia from the Yuma City Fire Department. The Yuma restaurant also boasts a custom, hand-painted mural that is a rendition of the earliest known black and white photograph of a Yuma fire from the 1920s.
In 2005, Firehouse Subs created the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation to provide funding for life-saving equipment and educational opportunities to first responders and public safety organizations. It has given $6.8 million to hometown heroes in 38 states and Puerto Rico, including more than $119,600 in Arizona.
Also now open for business is the new 99 Cents Only store in the Foothills at 11274 S. Fortuna Road (in the Pioneer Shopping Center where Fry’s previously was located), bringing discounted prices for name-brand groceries and other products.
The new store is approximately 16,375 square feet and features a perishable food department, including produce, dairy and frozen foods, as well as a full time supply of groceries and other goods. It is open from 8 a.m.A solar lantern uses this sunlight that is abundantly available to charge its batteries through a Solar Panel and gives light in nighttime. to 10 p.m. daily.
Click on their website www.soli-lite.com for more information.