Researchers develop sustainable alternative of currently used solar cells

Solar power is a promising alternative to conventional, non-renewable sources of energy. However, solar panels that are currently used require toxic materials as buffers, which are not sustainable. In a bid to find a sustainable alternative, a team of scientists have developed a new eco-friendly alternative called ZTO buffer. This alternative can overcome the limitation of currently used solar panels.

In fact, given the crisis related to imminent climate change, the transition to renewable energy needs to be accelerated. Meanwhile, in recent years, solar power has emerged as one of the most dependable source fewest for this task. A team of researchers at Incheon National University, Korea explain their newest contribution to this field.

Novel Solar cells cheaper, eco-friendly

Composition-wise, solar panels are made of photovoltaic cells, wherein materials that are subject to light produced excited electrons. In other words, this is electric current. Novel thin-film solar cells are made up of submicrometer or micrometer, which are thick layers of a photovoltaic material. This allows them to be integrated into lightweight, flexible panels for use in a variety of substrates. The process, however, has some limitations.

In fact, most thin-film solar cells include expensive and toxic elements, which may slow the expansion of solar cell applications. Meanwhile, the team of researchers at Incheon National University are working on the production of a solar cell made of materials that are naturally available in abundance, are eco-friendly, and are easy to obtain, and inexpensive to manufacture.

For this, the scientists considered eco-friendly cells composed of kesterite – naturally available mineral that acts as a photon absorber. Most solar cells made of kesterite use a buffer layer composed of cadmium sulfide to optimize their performance.

Research devises way to Improve Efficiency of Perovskite Solar Cells

In a new development, a team of researchers have devised a way to improve the efficiency of all perovskite solar cells using a reducing agent. The technique employed by the group and the performance of the resulting cells is described in the journal Nature Energy.

In a bid to improve the efficiency of solar panels, to make them more competitive with fossil fuels as an energy source, scientists have turned to new raw materials. Perovskite is one of the new raw materials used, a mineral that is mostly made of calcium titanate. Meanwhile, earlier research of stacking perovskite cells on silicon cells show it can increase efficiency, but does not warrants its use.

To address this, more recent research focuses on to replace silicon altogether, and stack two kinds of perovskite cells. The study of perovskite shows it can boost the efficiency of solar cells by 30 percent. Therefore, to make perovskite, engineers have been adding a metal, mostly a lead-tin mixture. However, tin oxidized during fabrication, resulting in degradation and reduced efficiencies.

New method prevents oxidation of Tin

And, with this new effort, researchers have devised a way to prevent oxidation and loss of efficiency. For the method, researchers sought to add something to tin to keep it from oxidizing. A great of search and testing revealed zwitterionic antioxidant inhibiter – commonly known as the reducing agent FSA – to find use to prevent tin from oxidizing.

In the making of lead-perovskite cells, adding zwitterionic antioxidant inhibiter prevented oxidation, and did not interfere with the operation of solar cells in other ways. Thus, without oxidation and degradation of tin, this made it feasible for the creation of all-perovskite solar cells with improved efficiency.

Research devises new color, eco-friendly thin-film Solar Cells

Around the world, research on solar cells to harness renewable energy sources is going on. In one such effort, the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute at South Korea has succeeded in developing eco-friendly, thin-film, and color CIGS solar cells.

CIGS thin-film solar cells find use to convert sunlight into electrical energy and are synthesized by coating multiple thin films on a glass substrate. Among a range of non-silicon based cells, the films have a relatively higher absorption coefficient that results in high conversion efficiency and long stability. Also, these films require less raw material than what is required by silicon-based ones; hence, small process and material costs.

Nonetheless, difficulty in commercialization has been a downside of solar films as have a buffer layer containing cadmium – a toxic heavy metal. For this, the research team replaced cadmium sulfide buffer layers with zinc-based materials. These materials are not harmful and achieved a conversion efficiency of almost 18%, thus eliminating a hurdle to commercialization.

Technology close to full-on Commercialization

Likewise, the technology is one step closer to commercialization for another factor. Availability of more than seven colors including green, purple, green, and blue which does not require additional process or cost. Moreover, the researchers succeeded to identify a new analysis method that uses photo-pumping terahertz spectroscopy and a mechanism to improve the conversion efficiency of solar cells with zinc-based buffer layers. Being thin, the solar cells can be coated on both a flexible substrate and glass substrate. This implies, the thin solar cells could be bent or folded, expanding their applications as a next-generation eco-friendly source of energy.

With thin-film solar cells, it will contribute to the development of solar power system through the production of color high value-added photovoltaic modules.

New Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells Produce Light From In-House Lamps

With current world rapidly incorporating advanced technologies in daily life, we are using Internet and IoT devices for completing almost all our regular activities. Due to this situation, there is for battery-less or wireless devices. A latest research offers new kinds of cells with an ability to produce light from lamps. Hopefully, this will aid in fulfilling the current energy needs.

Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells Transforming Future World

Researchers at Uppsala University discovered new cells, which are dye-sensitized solar cells with an ability to create light from in-house lamps. Scientists hope that these internal lamps will work as a district low-maintenance energy source and offer local power to IoT devices. The research is open for access in the journal Chemical Science. Moreover, scientists from the Technical University of Munich also showed their participation in this study.

Marina Freitag headed the research carried out at Uppsala University. In this study, Freitag along with her associates created new indoor photovoltaic (PV) cells. The key specialty of these cells is their ability to convert up to 34% of visible light into electricity. Freitag stated, “Identifying the spectra of these light sources can assist in tuning special dyes to soak up indoor light. Generally, these indoor PVs generate huge energy. In addition, they aid in maintaining a high voltage under low light. And this is vital to power different IoT devices.” Besides, the research also offered an adaptive “power management” system for solar-powered IoT sensors.

Contrary to their battery-limited devices, the new light-driven devices smartly feed from the amount of light available. Further, Freitag said, “Ambient light harvesters offer an advanced generation of smart and self-powered IoT devices. These devices are powered by an energy source that is mostly unused. Notably, the blend of cost effectiveness and high efficiency with toxic-free materials for indoor PVs is of key significance to sustainability of IoT.”