Nanoscience and Nanostructures for Photovoltaics and Solar Fuels

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Quantum confinement of electronic particles (negative electrons and positive holes) in nanocrystals produces unique optical and electronic properties that have the potential to enhance the power conversion efficiency of solar cells for photovoltaic and solar fuels production at lower cost. These approaches and applications are labeled third generation solar photon conversion. Prominent among these unique properties is the efficient formation of more than one electron-hole pair (called excitons in nanocrystals) from a single absorbed photon. In isolated nanocrystals that have three-dimensional confinement of charge carriers (quantum dots) or two-dimensional confinement (quantum wires and rods) this process is termed multiple exciton generation. This Perspective presents a summary of our present understanding of the science of optoelectronic properties of nanocrystals and a prognosis for and review of the technological status of nanocrystals and nanostructures for third generation photovoltaic cells and solar fuels production.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2735-2741
Number of pages7
JournalNano Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2010

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-590-49282


  • MEG
  • multiple exciton generation
  • nanostructures for photovoltaics
  • Quantum dot solar cells
  • third generation photovoltaics


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