A research team led by Rice University has recently made new breakthroughs in solar cells. The team used Advanced Photon Source (APS) ultra-bright X-rays to not only improve the efficiency of solar cells, but also maintain their environmental tolerance.
Aditya Mohite of Rice University and his colleagues found that sunlight itself shrinks the space between the atomic layers in a two-dimensional peroxide, enough to increase the photovoltaic efficiency of the material by 18%. In the field of solar energy, any 1% breakthrough is commendable, let alone double digits.
Peroxide is a compound with a cubic crystal lattice and is an efficient light collector. Their potential has been known for many years, but they pose a problem: They are good at converting sunlight into energy, but sunlight and moisture can degrade them.
Mohite said: “In 10 years, peroxide efficiency has soared from about 3% to more than 25%. It took about 60 years for other semiconductors to reach this level. That’s why we are so excited. Just like your machinist. Just as you want to run your engine to see what’s happening inside, we want to essentially take a video of this transition, not a single snapshot. Facilities like APS enable us to do this.”
APS is the user facility of the Office of Science of the United States Department of Energy (DOE) at the DOE Argonne National Laboratory. The team used APS to confirm this discovery. This research was recently published in “Nature-Nanotechnology”.