Everything I need to know about gratzel cells

gratzel cells

Gratzel cells are a good alternative to the silicon based solar cells which are costly and hence not that efficient to produce. These Gratzel cells are made from Titanium dioxide which are cheaper and widely available when compared to the silicon solar cells. These cells are generally coated with dye that enhances the amount of light that is absorbed thus making the solar cells more efficient to use.


1. New technology makes Gratzel cells efficient

The major drawback with the Gratzel solar cells was that the performance of these cells dropped drastically even after a short exposure to the sunlight. However, a team of researchers have found that use of ruthenium dye for coating the Gratzel cells increase their efficiency by 10 percent. Even after 1000 hours of exposure to the sunlight these solar cells were found to retain 90 percent of their output.

2. Low-cost solar cells

The Gratzel cells developed by Michael Gratzel, are made of Titanium-di-oxide molecules and are then covered with a dye that helps the cells to capture the light similar to the chlorophyll in the plant leaves. These cells are not not just cheaper sources of renewable energy but also attractive sources of energy. For this invention, Michael has won the Millennium Technology prize.

3. Better plastic solar cells

Various improved dyes and electrolytes have pushed the efficiency and hence, the practicability of the Gratzel cells. The efficiency with these new types of electrolytes as has gone higher than 10 percent which at a certain point of time was considered impossible. These electrolytic dyes make the cells so efficient that even if the cells were cut half its actual thickness they would be able to achieve a efficiency of close to 10 percent.

4. A waffle-mold

Researchers at Stanford University have teamed up to develop a way to increase the efficiency of the Gratzel cells without increasing the production cost. For this they have developed something called as Waffle Mold which would leverage the electronic waves that are generated when the light is absorbed by a metal.

5. Michael Gratzel’s solar cells get stylish

The Gratzel cells invented by Micheal twenty years ago is now paying off since they have now increased the efficiency of the cells to 10 percent by using a special type of electrolytic dye that enhances the rate at which light is absorbed and increases the amount of time they can be exposed to the sunlight and still retain its output. Now companies like Sony have already found ways to use this piece of technology on solar mobile chargers and solar bags capable of producing electricity. Now even translucent Gratzel has been developed that could be extremely useful in applications such as windows.

The benefits

There are several advantages of Gratzel cells over the conventional silicon based solar cells. Since these are made from titanium dioxide, which is widely available the overall product is much more cheaper when compared to silicon based solar cells. This would mean that even the poorest of countries could resort to renewable source of energy production.

These Gratzel cells are available in translucent form and in addition also in several colors. Thus it makes the use of these cells in our windows more practical in a way that one can receive the light at the same time it would also generate electricity. Not to forget that these are way too attractive when compared with the silicon based cells.

The lowdown

The efficiency of 10 percent though a remarkable achievement is not yet up to the mark set by the silicon solar cells that have more than 10 percent of efficiency. Thus total output of the Gratzel cell is still less although the product is cheaper. So on the whole the amount of money spent or invested on per Kilo Watt hour of power is high for these cells. According to Micheal, the inventor of the Gratzel cells, it could take another 40 years to fully stabilize the product and to give a green signal for mass production.

The impact

The main aim of the researchers developing and modifying the Gratzel cells is to decrease the cost of the production of these solar cells. Currently the solar cells are too expensive and hence find only a few applications where it could be used cost effectively. Gratzel cells opens up a huge area of research through which solar cells could be developed at much cheaper price compared to the existing Silicon cells. Once this is achieved, most of our energy needs could be covered through the use of Gratzel solar panels.

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