The U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) is funding numerous gold nanoparticle projects at academic research centers across the country, and one of the beneficiaries could be the U.S. solar industry.
Most recently, an AFOSR-supported research team at the University of Florida has fine-tuned the pathway by which light can be used to synthesize precisely structured gold nanocrystals, according to CleanTechnica.
The use of light to grow nanoscale crystals isn’t new. The process is called plasmon-driven synthesis, and it has been used to form precisely engineered nanoparticles of silver. But unlike gold, silver has a limited range of applications.
Gold is highly desired for nanotechnology. It is malleable, does not react with oxygen and conducts heat well, according to the University of Florida team.
The team also discovered an energy efficiency bonus. In addition to delivering precise, high-yield results, the new plasmon-driven process can operate at low power, using light in the visible range. Combined with nanoparticles being used in solar photovoltaic devices, this method can even harness solar energy for chemical synthesis.
According to CleanTechnica, this new research could help speed along the development of next-generation thin-film solar cells, with efficiency enhanced by the reflective properties of gold nanoparticles.
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