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NREL Researchers Capture Excess Photon Energy to Produce Solar Fuels

NREL lead-sulfide quantum dot solar cell.

NREL lead-sulfide quantum dot solar cell.

July 31, 2017 | Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, nrel.gov, 13 Apr 2017, Young Yang, Matthew Beard, et al.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed a proof-of-principle photoelectrochemical cell capable of capturing excess photon energy normally lost to generating heat.

Using quantum dots (QD) and a process called Multiple Exciton Generation (MEG), the NREL researchers were able to push the peak external quantum efficiency for hydrogen generation to 114 percent. The advancement could significantly boost the production of hydrogen from sunlight by using the cell to split water at a higher efficiency and lower cost than current photoelectrochemical approaches.