A new solar cell prototype has been developed by a team of scientists in China. The new prototype might just change the way we use solar panels in the near future.
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Solar panel technology has changed the way people bring energy into their homes, but this type of technology has always had one major concern: panels can’t output optimal power without the ideal weather conditions (which is a much bigger concern in some countries than others, take England for example). When you days without much sun, there is only so much energy that panels are able to store for later use. While engineers and material scientist have been able to improve the efficiency of the panels over the years. We are able to get solar panels that store a decent amount of energy, there has never been a development like the one discovered this year.
Scientist in China are now able to create electricity with the assistance of raindrops (great news for us in England). This is thanks to a thin layer of graphene they use to coat their solar cells during testing. Graphene is known for its conductivity along with other benefits. All it takes is a one-atom thick graphene layer for an excessive amount of electrons to move as they wish across the surface. When water is present, graphene binds its electrons with positively charged ions, a process called the Lewis acid-base interaction.
These new solar kicks can be stimulated by incident light on sunny days and raindrops when it’s raining, yielding an optimal energy conversion efficiency of 6.53% under 1.5 atmosphere thickness irradiation and current over µA, along with a voltage of hundreds of mV by simulated raindrops.
The salt which is present in rain then separated into ions, making graphene and natural water a great combination for creating energy. The water clings to the graphene, forming a dual layer (AKA pseudocapacitor) with the graphene electrons. The energy difference between these layers is so strong that it generates electricity.
If you are wanting to find out more about these new all-weather solar cells, then they are discussed in more depth in the Angewandte Chemie journal.
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