June 9, 2023


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Will it double the efficiency of solar cells? The new material provides amazing results

Scientists write about what exactly implementing this concept would look like Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The potential progress in this field is worth its weight in gold, as it must mean the development of technologies that allow the exploitation of renewable energy sources. These, in turn, are key to decarbonization and achieving net zero emissions.

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One of the many problems resulting from the use of silicon photovoltaic panels is the loss of up to 40% of the energy obtained from sunlight in the form of heat loss. What if silicone was replaced by another material? This is the question members of the research team led by Rachel Austin and Youssef Farah asked themselves.

In their opinion, the key to success may be molybdenum disulfide. However, before proposing such a hypothesis, scientists conducted experiments to verify the ability of ultra-thin layers of this composite to improve the performance of photovoltaic panels.

If the current results are confirmed, the new material could double the efficiency of solar cells

During the tests, the researchers used an ultrafast transient absorption spectrometer, thanks to which the cascade energy states of individual electrons can be accurately measured during the excitation of laser pulses. A photoelectrochemical cell constructed using a single atomic layer of molybdenum sulfide was then subjected to an experiment that focused on cooling the electrons as they traveled through the material.

And the results turned out to be, to put it mildly, satisfactory. The tested substance is great at converting light into energy, because its crystalline structure allows the so-called energy to be extracted and used. hot vectors. This term is used to describe high-energy electrons that are briefly excited from the ground state once they are within range of a sufficient amount of visible light. Instead of wasting energy converting it into heat, these cells can use it in a more beneficial way. A similar phenomenon does not occur in the case of silicon modules.

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As the authors of the aforementioned publication summarize, their achievements to date should pave the way for further strategies related to the design of 2D semiconductors for practical use in ultrathin photovoltaics and solar fuels. So the benefits can be really wide ranging. There is even talk of designing reactors using these new materials, thanks to which the possibility of efficient production of hydrogen on a large scale will appear.