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February 21, 2015

United Kingdom

Solar Cells from Shrimp Shells


Shrimp News: About once a month, I read about another miraculous new use for chitin, a major component in shrimp shells, but to the best of my knowledge, no shrimp farm or processing plant is selling its surplus shrimp heads and shells to chitosan producers.


Here’s the latest miracle:


Scientists at Queen Mary University of London have created solar cells using widely and cheaply available chemicals found in the shells of shrimps and other crustaceans.  Shrimp shells are abundant and significantly cheaper to obtain than the expensive metals such as ruthenium, which is similar to platinum, that are currently used in making nanostructured solar-cells.


Currently the efficiency of solar cells made with chitosan is low, but if it could be improved it could be placed in everything from wearable chargers for tablets, phones and smart watches, to semi-transparent films over windows.


Researchers, from QMUL’s School of Engineering and Materials Science, used a process known as hydrothermal carbonization to create the carbon quantum dots (CQDs) from the widely and cheaply available chemicals found in crustacean shells.  They then coated standard zinc oxide nanorods with the CQDs to make the solar cells.


“This could be a great new way to make these versatile, quick and easy to produce solar cells from readily available, sustainable materials,” said Dr. Joe Briscoe, one of the researchers on the project.  “Once we’ve improved their efficiency they could be used anywhere that solar cells are used now, particularly to charge the kinds of devices people carry with them every day,” Briscoe said.


Information: Dr. Joe Briscoe, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, United Kingdom (phone +44-0-20-7882-7620, email, webpage


Sources: 1.  Cheap Solar Cells Made From Shrimp Shells.  February 19, 2015.  Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International, February 21, 2015.

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