Researchers from Spain and England developed a technique to make solar panels that are thinner, more efficient and more environmentally friendly.
Currently, solar panels are made from silicon cells, a material that is also used for the production of chips, and which is expected to continue to be in high demand as the world transitions to solar power generation.
However, a group of researchers from the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Barcelona, University College and Imperial College, both institutions in London, developed a technique that makes it possible to dispense with this material and, incidentally, develop cells in the future. photovoltaic in structures much thinner than a human hair.
The technique, named “cation disorder engineering,” involves the use of a material known as AgBiS2 nanocrystals, treated to fine-tune the atomic positions of the cations.
In this way, the researchers managed to improve the semiconductor properties of the material. In a study published in the journal Nature Photonicsexplain that they reached an absorption coefficient between five and 10 times greater than any other material used in the solar photovoltaic industry, and that the range of light that it can capture ranges from ultraviolet to infrared.
In laboratory tests, scientists reported a conversion efficiency of solar energy to electricity of up to nine percent, between 50 and 10 times higher than that observed in solar panels smaller than 100 nanometers, and with a current density of up to 27 milliamps. per square centimeter.
For reference, a human hair is 60,000 nanometers thick, so the developed material would allow the fabrication of solar panels in tiny structures.
“It is very exciting to see such a current density in such a small device,” said Yongjie Wang, one of the researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences behind the study.