New Mexico Patent of the Month – February 2023
The use of luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs) has been gaining popularity in the renewable energy industry. These devices concentrate solar radiation using luminescent materials to generate electricity. One company leading the way in LSC technology is UbiQD, Inc. with their high-quality fluorophores that have a quantum yield greater than 50% and an absorption spectrum with a maximum intensity at wavelengths less than 600 nm.
UbiQD is an advanced materials company powering product innovations in agriculture, clean energy, and security. Their quantum dots enable industry leaders to harness the power of light. Their first product, UbiGro® – which has recently been granted a patent – is a layer of light that helps plants get more from the sun.
LSCs have potential applications in agriculture, particularly in greenhouses where electricity is one of the biggest expenses. One approach is to use a luminescent electricity-generating window for plant growth. This method uses LSCs to produce power without harming plant growth. Another approach is the use of photovoltaic greenhouse structures where light freely passes through thin-film solar cells and enters the greenhouse inner space.
Fluorescent materials have also been used to enhance plant growth. However, traditional down-conversion films have a drawback where roughly 50% of the light is lost by fluorescence directed away from the plants. Additionally, dyes suffer from instability under sunlight. UbiQD’s technology offers a solution to these problems with high-quality fluorophores that have a high quantum yield and absorption spectrum, which leads to higher light output and more efficient energy transfer to the plants.
UbiQD’s quantum dot technology allowed for the development of optical elements that scatter light in a more efficient and effective manner for plant growth. These elements not only enhance plant growth but also reduce attenuation and increase the amount of useful light impinging on plants. Quantum dots are vanishingly small “nano” particles of material. Owing to their small size, these materials are especially advantageous due to having remarkably high efficiency and size-tunable photoluminescence (PL, light emission) over a wide-range of colors. Using very specifically-sized quantum dots, the company can optimize the absorption onset and PL spectrum for the application.
The use of luminescent solar concentrators has the potential to revolutionize the renewable energy industry. UbiQD’s innovative approach to LSC technology using high-quality fluorophores offers a more efficient way of producing electricity without compromising plant growth or reducing attenuation. UbiQD’s technology is a promising solution to the world’s growing demand for sustainable and eco-friendly energy.
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