Quantum Dot Window Captures Sunlight
Imagine a new method of capturing energy from sunlight using a material we already have built in to all office buildings, cars, and homes. Hunter McDaniel, UbiQD Founder and President, and New Mexico Consortium affiliate, has envisioned a new kind of window that will do just this. A new window that can not only illuminate the room and give a clear view, but also will use sunlight to efficiently help power the building they are a part of.
McDaniel is a quantum dot entrepreneur and co-first author on the paper “Highly efficient large-area colourless luminescent solar concentrators using heavy-metal-free colloidal quantum dots” (DOI: 10.1038/NNANO.2015.178) published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The work was performed by researchers at the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics (CASP) of Los Alamos, led by Klimov and the research team coordinated by Sergio Brovelli and Francesco Meinardi of the Department of Materials Science of the University of Milan-Bicocca (UNIMIB) in Italy.
McDaniel describes luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) as an “emerging sunlight harvesting technology that has the potential to disrupt the way we think about energy by turning any window into a daytime power supply.”
McDaniel adds, “with a new class of low-cost, low-hazard quantum dots, we have overcome some of the biggest roadblocks to commercial deployment of this technology." He describes the materials developed in this work as the "holy grail" for LSCs that "minimize self-absorption of luminescence, can be tuned optimally for use with low-cost silicon photovoltaics, avoids toxic metals, and doesn't significantly perturb color perception", akin to a car window tint.
McDaniel believes the last remaining hurdle to overcome is reducing cost of the dots, but his company UbiQD has a head start on this effort with dots that are "significantly less expensive" to manufacture than alternative toxic quantum dots. He adds that "as economies of scale are realized with quantum dot manufacturing scale up, the tipping point of LSC economic viability will be reached. UbiQD is now seeking an industrial partner to bring sunlight harvesting windows to market."