Sunday, May 10, 2015

The failed solar cell

When we learned that the solar cell module was a competition, Lauren and I joked that we would indeed win. We had confidence that our solar cell would be the most efficient solar cell the 109 staff had ever seen. And then we tested it. 0.5% efficient. We failed. But you know what, I'm ok with that. We did produce a solar cell that actually worked and that is cool in itself. Lauren and I always joke that we are the slacker group because we seem to always be confused. Somehow, our experiments usually work anyway. Throughout this class, I have learned that maybe I understand more about what I'm doing then I give myself credit for. And although our solar cell was not that efficient, I actually understand why that might be the case. First of all, during assembly, we scraped about half of our dye off. So, when measuring the area, we were way off. It's hard to calculate an area of bits and pieces of your dye-sensitized cell. Secondly, we suck at solar cell assembly. We had a short in our cell that we never did figure out how to fix. And lastly, we had really tiny gold nanoparticles. Upon inspection with the TEM, we realized that our "5nm" gold nanoparticles were closer to 3nm in size. Either way, I learned a lot and got to see some really cool results from other teams.

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