Quantum dots, a Ghostbuster backpack & the future of solar technology


Sometimes, it just takes a Google search to overcome a big technical hurdle in a lab. OK, so it didn’t quite happen that way, but for Illan Kramer, a University of Toronto researcher and IBM employee, a simple search turned up the right tool that helped him make a working solar cell out of quantum dots, with are ultra tiny semiconductor bits.

Kramer’s efforts have now demonstrated how to spray a coating of quantum dots using a nozzle that Japanese company, Ikeuchi, developed for steel makers to cool steel with a fine mist of water. Previously, quantum dot solar cell research was mostly focused on using spin-coating, where the semiconductor compound is applied on a substrate that spins to spread the materials. But that process is slow, which means it’d be an expensive way to mass produce solar cells because the equipment cannot coat a large area quickly.


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