Oct 18, 2016: Over decades, solar panels have been made more efficient by using the perfect materials—pure silicon—to capture more of the sun’s energy. However, scientists have now revealed that more solar power can be generated by embracing the flaws rather than rejecting them.
New “imperfect” material
The future of solar lies in hybrid organic-inorganic perovskites (HOIPs), according to a study published in the journal Science. The researchers claimed that such “imperfect” material is better than pure silicon.
In order to understand its functioning, one needs to be aware about the interior of a conventional solar cell.There are two thin layers of silicon under an anti-reflective coat and a glass panel. The top layer is loaded with excess electrons, while there is shortage of electrons in the bottom layer.
As soon as light passes through the top layer, it knock surplus electrons free. These free electrons then move through the bottom layer of silicon and flow through the metal plates lining the cell. They then travel to their final destination via a laptop or mobile phone
Benefits of HOPIs over silicon
Japanese researchers found that silicon may be replaced with HOIPs. When compared to silicon, HOIPs can even work when peppered with defects. Hypothetically, silicon can convert up to 33% of the sun’s energy into electricity, taking into accountkey breakthroughs in R&D.
In less than 10 years, HOIPs increased from a mere 4% to 22% efficiency rate. The theoretical limit is much higher as HOIPs have the potential to double the solar cells, the researchers claim.
Imperfections aren’t an issue with HOIPssince electrons obtain a type of cloaking field that helps them avoid colliding with the several defects in the material. When compared to silicon, electrons lose energy more slowly when traveling through HOIPs.
Since HOIPs contain lead and are water soluble they can dissolve in the rain and leak lead into the floor, which may result in poisoning water supplies. However, the study shows that it is possible to create eco-friendly materials that imitate HOIPs, according to the researchers.
Following this new development, HOIPs will allow more of the sun’s energy to flow through solar panels and light up homes, the researchers added.