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[Image above] Credit: NIST

A unique material for the new generation of solar cells

Researchers at Kaunas University of Technology laboratories have developed material that offers much cheaper alternative to the one currently being used in hybrid solar cells. The tests revealed outstanding results: the effectivity of the cells’ converting solar energy into electricity was 16.9%. There are only a few organic semiconductors in the world affording such high solar cell efficiency.

Property of non-stick pans improves solar cell efficiency

The same quality that buffers a raincoat against downpours or a pan against sticky foods can also boost the performance of solar cells, according to a new study from University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineers. The study showed that constructing a type of organic solar cell on a “non-wetting” plastic surface made it 1.5 times more efficient at converting sunlight to electricity. The researchers used the technique to grow polycrystalline cells, which are less expensive, faster and easier to produce than those made from only a single crystal.

Pervoskite technology beats current solar technology in life-cycle energy assessment

In the solar power research community, perovskites are causing quite a buzz, as scientists search for technology that has a better “energy payback time” than the silicon-based solar panels currently dominating the market. Now scientists at Northwestern University and Argonne National Lab report that perovskite modules are better than any commercially available solar technology when products are compared on the basis of energy payback time.

Sticky tape and phosphorus the key to ultrathin solar cells

Scientists studying thin layers of phosphorus have found surprising properties that could open the door to ultrathin and ultralight solar cells and LEDs. The team used sticky tape to create single-atom thick layers, termed phosphorene, in the same simple way as the Nobel-prize winning discovery of graphene. Unlike graphene, phosphorene is a semiconductor, like silicon, which is the basis of current electronics technology.

New design could dramatically boost efficiency of low-cost solar panels

A new material design tested in experiments at SLAC National Accelerator Lab could make low-cost solar panels far more efficient by greatly enhancing their ability to collect the sun’s energy and release it as electricity. A team of scientists found that by assembling the components of the panels to more closely resemble the natural systems plants use, it may be possible to separate positive and negative charges in a stable way for up to several weeks.

Rice finding could lead to cheap, efficient metal-based solar cells

Scientists from Rice University report a new method that solar-panel designers could use to incorporate light-capturing nanomaterials into future designs. By applying an innovative theoretical analysis to observations from a first-of-its-kind experimental setup, researchers created a methodology that solar engineers can use to determine the electricity-producing potential for any arrangement of metallic nanoparticles.