Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Solar panels a thousand times more efficient?

I have a roof full of solar panels, and they are great, but they don't supply enough power for our daily electrical needs (about half, actually). Imagine, then, if I had solar panels that were a thousand times more efficient.

Well, that's the promise of a totally new kind of solar panel being developed in Germany. Researchers at  Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg have produced a solar panel using alternating crystalline layers of barium titanate, strontium titanate and calcium titanate, instead of the traditional silicon-based cells. The new cells use about 500 alternating layers of these ferroelectric and paraelectric materials, each about 200 nanometres thick. This arrangement apparently separates the positive and negative charges in the same photovoltaic device, thereby increasing their efficiency by orders of magnitude (somehow).

It is still early days in the development of this new technology, and I have no idea how rare or expensive the ingredients (or whether the supply is controlled by China!) But, nevertheless, it is an exciting new avenue that seems to have lots of promise for the future.

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