Northwestern University researchers noted the energy from sunlight falling on only 9 percent of California's Mojave Desert could power the entire United States. The problem is efficiently harvesting that power since current solar cell technologies are too expensive and inefficient for wide-scale commercial applications.
But the Northwestern scientists said their study, focusing on "engineering" organic material-electrode interfaces in bulk-heterojunction organic solar cells, might solve the problem.
The scientists said their findings promise to move researchers and developers worldwide closer to the goal of producing cheaper, more "manufacturable" and more easily implemented solar cells. Such technology, they said, would greatly reduce dependence on burning fossil fuels for electricity production as well as reduce the combustion product: carbon dioxide, a global warming greenhouse gas.
The study that included professors Tobin Marks and Robert Chang, researcher Bruce Buchholz and graduate students Michael Irwin and Alexander Hains appears in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.