Doping of Quantum Dots Promises Both Improved Efficiency and Lower Costs of Solar Cells

Making quantum dots perform like n-type and p-type semiconductors could make solar cells cheaper and more efficient

1 min read
Doping of Quantum Dots Promises Both Improved Efficiency and Lower Costs of Solar Cells

While carbon nanotubes have been the darling of the nanoparticle universe, quantum dots have been that mysterious and alluring nanoparticle that seems to keep researchers coming back for more.

We’ve seen them being proposed as the backbone for quantum computers and we have observed them being used to improve LED lighting.

One application area that always gets some attention when the topic of quantum dots is discussed is solar power. They get presented as a possible silver bullet for spiking the efficiency of solar cells with the proposed abilities either to enable electron multiplication or to create so-called “hot-carrier” cells. These proposals are not without skeptics.

But if the higher efficiency promised by quantum dots should fall short, then we still have the potential for them making solar power cheaper.

It is in this latter application niche that research covered here on the pages of Spectrum in which quantum dots have been doped that quantum dots look more attractive for solar cells.

In the Spectrum article, Eran Rabini, of Tel Aviv University and one of the lead researchers on the project, when commenting on the research’s potential for producing junctions consisting of films made of n-type and p-type nanocrystals suggests, "We might be able to make them cheaper (solar cells, ed.), and maybe at the end of the road they would also be more efficient."

I like when the terms “more efficient” and “cheaper” are brought together when discussing solar cells. 

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Two Startups Are Bringing Fiber to the Processor

Avicena’s blue microLEDs are the dark horse in a race with Ayar Labs’ laser-based system

5 min read
Diffuse blue light shines from a patterned surface through a ring. A blue cable leads away from it.

Avicena’s microLED chiplets could one day link all the CPUs in a computer cluster together.


If a CPU in Seoul sends a byte of data to a processor in Prague, the information covers most of the distance as light, zipping along with no resistance. But put both those processors on the same motherboard, and they’ll need to communicate over energy-sapping copper, which slow the communication speeds possible within computers. Two Silicon Valley startups, Avicena and Ayar Labs, are doing something about that longstanding limit. If they succeed in their attempts to finally bring optical fiber all the way to the processor, it might not just accelerate computing—it might also remake it.

Both companies are developing fiber-connected chiplets, small chips meant to share a high-bandwidth connection with CPUs and other data-hungry silicon in a shared package. They are each ramping up production in 2023, though it may be a couple of years before we see a computer on the market with either product.

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