New materials will allow solar panels to work with artificial light. Source: Image designed by @emiliomoron using public domain images: panel, lamp.
Nowadays we use a lot of wireless electronic devices that work with batteries, the reality is that when these run out, they become a dangerous waste since they contain many chemical substances that are difficult to recycle or use rare elements whose exploitation causes serious damage to the environment. So there is an urgent need for a better way to power these devices.
We know that photovoltaic cells allow us to take advantage of sunlight to power small devices, but we usually spend more time inside the house and office, so why not also take advantage of the interior light provided by ordinary light bulbs for this purpose?
The answer so far is that the materials used to collect sunlight do not work well with artificial light, due to the different properties of the light sources. But this could be about to change as a joint Chinese-British force has focused on developing the next generation of solar cells, materials inspired by perovskite, a relatively rare mineral on earth that comes into contact with metamorphic rocks, and which is chemically a titanium-calcium trioxide (CaTiO3) with an orthorhombic crystalline system that is recently used for the manufacture of solar cells, but for these applications high performance lead halide perovskites are used, which clearly leaves its ecotoxicity in question.
That is why other more ecological alternatives have been sought, with materials inspired by the structure of perovskite but without lead (PIM) attracting the most attention. These materials structurally imitate perovskite, but do not contain harmful substances, which makes them more ecological.
But the price to pay for being more ecological is that they are less efficient than conventional materials in absorbing sunlight. But this group of scientists was able to demonstrate that they could be useful for indoor light collection, in fact their efficiency increased from 1% with sunlight to 5% with light from indoor lamps, which although it doesn't seem to be much, is an efficiency that is within the range of values reported for hydrogenated amorphous silicon, that is, the industry standard, which makes sense to investigate more about their efficiency in such conditions and to invest in their development.
The results of his research were reported in Advanced Energy Materialss, in this report we examined in detail two compounds denominated, BiOI and Cs3Sb2ClxI9-x which turned out to be photo-stable and presented bandwidths close to 1.9 eV, which is too wide to efficiently harvest solar radiation in single-junction devices, but is optimal for indoor light harvesting.
Although there is still a long way to go, the researchers already demonstrated that these materials provide enough power with indoor lighting to run thin-film transistor electronics, showing their potential to be improved and applied to power smart devices.
Perhaps in the future we will be able to power our intelligent devices with the light from inside the home. Source: image designed by @emiliomoron using public domain images.panel, lamp
The potential of these new materials is promising, if these materials can efficiently absorb light from lamps commonly found in homes and offices, these materials could convert that light into electricity, allowing us to ecologically power our wireless devices, using some of the electricity converted into light to operate them. And on the other hand, they open the possibility for the development of portable devices or for our homes without the need for batteries, avoiding the generation of this dangerous waste.
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