Published on December 18, 2007
Every Monday to Friday, instead of going back home, Itthikorn heads to the laboratory at Chulalongkorn University and does research work from 5pm till 9 pm, developing organic-based dye-sensitised solar cells.
"I always stay in the lab to find techniques to develop an organic compound to produce the new kind of solar cell," he said.
His plan is to develop porphyrin-based dyes which will be used as a base to develop conductive polymers for new cell development.
An organic-based dye-sensitised solar cell is a kind of solar cell that uses organic materials instead of silicon or germanium as the key conductive element. They have the potential to bring solar-cell production costs down.
Itthikorn said his key process was to use organic compounds to get porphyrin derivatives to use with titanium dioxide to allow electricity to move through the cell.
Having conducted the project for a year, the project has produced a prototype organic-based dye-sensitised solar cell which has the ability to convert solar energy into electricity at a rate of around 7 per cent.
The young developer said this conversion rate was not yet enough for practical use so he plans to increase the conversion rate to 15 per cent in a year.
"I have to try harder to find a better technique to make porphyrin-based dyes that have better visible light capabilities so they can improve light absorption," he said.
He said this would allow the cell to collect more solar energy for further electricity conversion.
In the meantime, he also plans to use small-scale titanium dioxide, from pico size to nano size, as this would allow electricity to move through the cell much better.
Organic-based dye-sensitised solar cells will offer a new choice for people when they use solar energy as they offer a lower cost of investment. The development of this kind of cell technology will boost the use of renewable energy, making people turn to natural energy sources more and more.
Since the cell is dyed and comes with transparent properties, the developer said it is suitable as a functional decorative material for walls or roofs, while giving a house electricity-generation features.