Quantum-Dot Leap

Tapping tiny crystals' inexplicable light-harvesting talent

By Peter Weiss, 15:54 PM April 15, 2008

One frustration of solar energy is that although it's free, clean, and inexhaustible, it's a major challenge to harvest efficiently. Consider what happens when photons of sunlight hit a solar cell: They strike electrons in semiconductor material and send them on their way as an electric current. Although many solar photons carry enough energy to theoretically unleash several electrons, they almost never free more than one.

The complex physics behind that limitation boils down to this: An elec...

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