Solar energy is changing rapidly and a team from Northwestern University has made a huge discovery.
They have developed a new type of solar cell that converts sunlight into electricity very efficiently.
This new cell has set a record, achieving an efficiency of 25.1%, which is better than the previous best of 24.09%.
Solar cells work by converting sunlight into electricity. Most solar cells we use today are made of a material called silicon, but these new cells use a different material called perovskite.
Perovskite is special because you can change its size and composition to absorb different types of light. This could mean cheaper and more efficient solar cells in the future.
The big problem with perovskite cells was that they were not as efficient and stable as silicon cells.
But the Northwestern team, led by Professor Ted Sargent, has found a way to make them much better.
The secret ingredients
The team’s success relies on the use of two special molecules in the cells. When sunlight hits the solar cell, tiny particles called electrons are created.
These electrons create electricity. But in perovskite cells, these electrons can be lost or “recombined” before they can be used to generate electricity.
To solve this problem, the team used a molecule to fix problems on the surface of the cell, where electrons can be trapped.
The other molecule was used to prevent the recombination of electrons in the cell layers. By using these two molecules together, the team managed to keep more electrons moving and increase the cell’s efficiency.
More than just a breakthrough
This is not the first time that Professor Sargent’s team has made progress in perovskite solar cells. They have been working on improving it for some time.
In a previous study, they developed a special coating that helps the cells function better at higher temperatures for longer periods of time. This new discovery can be combined with their previous work to make even better solar cells.
The team believes their work will inspire others in the scientific community to further improve solar technology.
However, they don’t stop there. They plan to continue experimenting with different molecules to solve further problems with perovskite cells. Their goal is to produce solar cells that are not only efficient, but also stable and reliable.
The breakthrough could lead to cheaper, more efficient solar panels that are easier to manufacture. It is a major step forward in harnessing the power of the sun to meet our energy needs.