Science

New Solar Cell Design An Improvement Over Existing Ones

By Rodney Rafols , Oct 20, 2016 08:49 PM EDT
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Solar cells have increasingly become important as one of the ways to find new sources of energy. Solar cells can be efficient but can be expensive as well. A new solar cell design might make solar cells even more efficient as well as less costly.

The new solar cells could outperform current solar cells, according to Science Daily. Many solar cells today use silicon, but the new technology would use perovskite. Perovskite is much thinner and easier to manufacture, which would mean that it would be less costly to produce.

Researchers from Stanford University and Oxford University have created a new form of perovskite by using tin and other elements. For solar cells, two perovskite solar cells are stacked together. The perovskite cells used have been printed on the glass though plastic could be used as well.

By adding perovskite cells, energy efficiency has improved in solar silicon cells. With the new technology perovskite cells are joined in tandem, making them, even more, energy efficient, as the Stanford University site reports.

"The all-perovskite tandem cells we have demonstrated clearly outline a roadmap for thin-film solar cells to deliver over 30 percent efficiency," Henry Snaith, co-author of the study and Professor of Physics at Oxford University said. He added that the study is just the beginning for more energy-efficient solar cells.

While perovskite solar cells might be less costly in the long run, building the study model has not been easy. Finding a perovskite material stable enough to get solar energy to produce enough voltage has been an issue. The issue is that a solar cell with a small energy gap could produce low voltage, while the solar cell with a large energy gap could produce more voltage but lower energy photons pass through.

To solve that a tandem of perovskite cells has been created. With two well-matched solar cells, energy efficiency would be greater. The tandem perovskite solar cells have an energy efficiency of 20.3 percent.

"Perovskite semiconductors have shown great promise for making high-efficiency solar cells at low cost," Michael McGehee, co-author and Professor of Materials Science at Stanford University said. "We have designed a robust, all-perovskite device that converts sunlight into electricity with an efficiency of 20.3 percent, a rate comparable to silicon solar cells on the market today."

Making a more efficient perovskite solar cell is the next challenge, and that can be done by making a more optimized version of it that could absorb more light as well as generate more energy.

Earlier scientists have found a way to convert CO2 into ethanol.

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