A promising technology.
Off Grid Ham first discussed perovskite solar cells in February 2017. This still-emerging technology uses perovskite-structured crystals to pull energy from different colors of light. Silicon panels by comparison make electricity from a narrow band of light. The process for making perovskite solar is also cheaper and more environmentally friendly than silicon. Lastly, perovskite is over 25% efficient versus 13%-17% for conventional panels.
But nothing is perfect.
One of the components of perovskite solar is lead. As most everyone knows, lead is a heavy metal that cannot be released uncontrolled into the environment. A broken or otherwise compromised perovskite solar network is a serious contamination hazard to soil and water. This is (or rather, was) one if the biggest obstacles to making perovskite solar a real product that can be placed on the market.
Scientists at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. have developed a plastic film that will absorb and sequester the lead in the event that the panel is compromised. From the NIU report:
“The lead toxicity issue has been one of the most vexing, last-mile challenges in the perovskite solar cell field,” said Xu, an NIU professor of chemistry. “We think we have a highly promising remedy to this problem—and it could be a game-changer.
“In the event of a damaged cell, our device captures the great majority of the lead, preventing it from leaching into groundwater and soils. The films that we use are insoluble in water.”
When we’ll be able to buy perovskite solar is still not determined, but with this development that day may come a lot sooner. The benefits of perovskite cannot be oversold. When this product hits the market, it’s going to be a game changer.
On a personal note, I am an NIU graduate (I got this tip from an alumni social media page). I am excited and proud that my alma mater is making significant contributions to advance renewable energy.
Off Grid Ham will post updates on this and other renewable technologies as they become available.
Click here to read the complete announcement from Northern Illinois University.
2 Interesting possibilities for the future
Emerging New-Generation Photodetectors Based on Low-Dimensional Halide Perovskites
Organic–inorganic halide perovskites have attracted enormous attention for future optoelectronic applications because of their remarkable optical and electrical properties, solution processability, low cost, and large-scale fabrication capabilities. In addition to their use in photovoltaics and light-emitting diodes, halide perovskites have recently emerged as promising candidates for new-generation photodetectors. However, conventional three-dimensional halide perovskite photodetectors suffer from current–voltage hysteresis, unreliable performance, and instability. By controlling the morphological dimensionality of bulk three-dimensional and quasi-two-dimensional structured perovskites, low-dimensional halide perovskites (LDHPs, such as two-dimensional, one-dimensional, and zero-dimensional halide perovskites), which have robust chemical stability and optoelectronic tunability owing to the quantum size effect, can be obtained, providing an alternative solution to overcoming the aforementioned limitations. In this Review, we examine the current state of the art and highlight the recent advances in photodetectors based on LDHPs, with a focus on their operation mechanisms, device architectures, synthesis and modification methods, and photodetection performances. We also discuss the current challenges for and provide a future perspective on the creation of LDHP-based photodetectors with unprecedented performance and opportunities for commercialization.
How about Anti-Solar Cells
sciencedaily.com Anti-solar cells: A photovoltaic cell that works at night
What if solar cells worked at night? That’s no joke, according to Jeremy Munday, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Davis. In fact, a specially designed photovoltaic cell could generate up to 50 watts of power per square meter under ideal conditions at night, about a quarter of what a conventional solar panel can generate in daytime, according to a concept paper by Munday and graduate student Tristan Deppe. The article was published in, and featured on the cover of, the January 2020 issue of ACS Photonics.
Munday, who recently joined UC Davis from the University of Maryland, is developing prototypes of these nighttime solar cells that can generate small amounts of power. The researchers hope to improve the power output and efficiency of the devices.
Munday said that the process is similar to the way a normal solar cell works, but in reverse. An object that is hot compared to its surroundings will radiate heat as infrared light. A conventional solar cell is cool compared to the sun, so it absorbs light.
Space is really, really cold, so if you have a warm object and point it at the sky, it will radiate heat toward it. People have been using this phenomenon for nighttime cooling for hundreds of years. In the last five years, Munday said, there has been a lot of interest in devices that can do this during the daytime (by filtering out sunlight or pointing away from the sun).
Generating power by radiating heat
There’s another kind of device called a thermoradiative cell that generates power by radiating heat to its surroundings. Researchers have explored using them to capture waste heat from engines.
“We were thinking, what if we took one of these devices and put it in a warm area and pointed it at the sky,” Munday said.
This thermoradiative cell pointed at the night sky would emit infrared light because it is warmer than outer space.
“A regular solar cell generates power by absorbing sunlight, which causes a voltage to appear across the device and for current to flow. In these new devices, light is instead emitted and the current and voltage go in the opposite direction, but you still generate power,” Munday said. “You have to use different materials, but the physics is the same.”
The device would work during the day as well, if you took steps to either block direct sunlight or pointed it away from the sun. Because this new type of solar cell could potentially operate around the clock, it is an intriguing option to balance the power grid over the day-night cycle.
Materials provided by University of California – Davis. Original written by Andy Fell. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Wow Ted, you offer a lot to chew on here! The technology you describe is a little hard to follow, but I think over time things will become more clear. I noticed you cited sciencedaily.com. It’s sister site solardaily.com is one of my regular stops. It’s where I first learned about perovskite solar back in 2017.
Thanks for your detailed reply and for being an Off Grid Ham reader!