Solar Generates Electricity from Invisible Light

Solar Energy is becoming one of the prominent renewable resources all over the world. Solar energy generates electricity by converting the sun’s heat energy into the current with the help of photovoltaic cells. Recent advancements in solar power help in increasing the efficiency of solar panels. Also, researchers are working on generating solar power at night using thermoradiative methods. There are also two major developments in solar technology that could vastly improve the energy. This development could help in making solar cheaper and also potentially reshaping the renewable energy market.

They published the breakthroughs in Nature Energy and Nature Photonics. The first study reveals that low-energy light that is not visible to the human eye (UV and IR rays) can be “upconverted” with the help of oxygen to generate electricity. Researchers at RMIT University, University of Kentucky, and UNSW University in Australia led this research. This technology allows solar panels to generate more energy using the same amount of sunlight.

Professor Tim Schmidt - Solar Energy

Professor Tim Schmidt

Elham Gholizadeh - Solar Energy

Professor Elham Gholizadeh

Solar Energy from Invisible light

Professor Tim Schmidt from UNSW Sydney said, “The energy from the sun is not just visible light. The spectrum is broad, including infrared light which gives us heat and ultraviolet light which can burn our skin.” He explains, “Most solar cells are made from silicon, which cannot respond to light less energetic than the near-infrared. This means that some parts of the light spectrum are going unused by many of our current devices and technologies”

Elham Gholizadeh, professor and lead researcher from the same University said, “I’m very hopeful and think that we can improve the efficiency quickly. I think it’s quite exciting for everyone.”

Solar Panel from Perovskites Material

Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan, led the second study. The research team made panels from perovskites rather than silicon, where most current solar panels were made of. They are more efficient and inexpensive when it comes to mass production. The material is lightweight and flexible.  The difficulty comes during the scaling up of this material. There is also a need for better fabrication techniques, and any slightest defect in the material could significantly affect the performance.

Luis Ono- solar energy
Dr Luis Ono

Dr Luis Ono

“Scaling up is very demanding. Any defects in the material become more pronounced, so you need high-quality materials and better fabrication techniques,” said Dr. Luis Ono, one of the Okinawa Institute study’s authors.

The researchers attained 16.6 percent efficiency on the 22.4cm module, which is pretty good. The panels can deliver high–performance even after constantly using for 2000 hours.  The team is working on larger modules and will commercialize soon in the markets.