New Solar Cell Modeled after Nature
A team of researchers from Carnegie Institution released a report last week in Nature that reported a new energy harvesting system for solar cells that can be used in everything from mobile phones to electric cars to laptops.
The research team developed a system that is very compact, enabling it to fit in a backpack, and it does not require electricity to run.
In other words, it is cheap, light, and can be easily adapted to any setup, meaning it is compatible with almost any device.
The idea for the product was inspired by nature. The researchers compared the efficiency of the product that uses the sun’s light to create electricity to the way that a plant absorbs energy from the sun. They observed how plants make use of tiny chloroplasts and a green pigment known as chlorophyll, and used that knowledge to design their own system.
The system consists of a small metal bar and a small transparent disc.
The bar is made of nickel and the disc is a carbon fiber material. The researchers combined these materials to form a solar cell that can convert light into electricity.
The process is much more efficient in the large space of solar cells.
The team found that the metal and the carbon fiber did not need to be coated or treated prior to forming the solar cell.
Furthermore, they found that the metal used in the process is not needed to make the solar cells, because the “metalization” of the material is sufficient.
The solar cell is made from silicon, which is also found in car batteries. The researchers found that by using a gold electrode instead of copper, the efficiency of the solar cell increases by about 10 percent.
The researchers also found out that the “gold” in the system is not the only important component that determines the success of the solar cell. Another component is the “tritium” used in the process.
The research team thinks that this work will help in the advancement of solar cells. “This is a very exciting time for solar technology,” said Zhifeng Ren, a co-author of the paper and professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Carnegie Institution.
“With our technology, the ability to extract energy from the air and therefore convert it into electricity is one more step in solar energy harvesting.”
The team is currently looking into other solar cell applications. The researchers hope to find ways to optimize the efficiency of solar cells so that they can be used in solar panels, batteries and even electronics.