Quantcast

Notre Dame Researchers Explore Technology to Realize Full Potential of Solar Power

Business

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame say it takes just one hour for the sun to deliver more energy to the Earth’s surface than what the entire world uses in just one year. To them, discovering inexpensive, yet innovative, technologies can help us realize the full potential of solar power.

A group led by graduate student Jeffrey Christians says it has identified an inorganic material for perovskite solar cells that provides a lower-cost alternative to the polymers currently used in cells. The researchers think organo-lead halide perovskite solar cells—and their "record efficiency levels"—can lead the next generation of solar cells.

Solar cells have exclusively used organic, hole-conducting polymers that conduct electricity in the cells. Organic polymers are normally more expensive because they are synthetically produced and need to be pure for photovoltaic applications, according to the study.

The researchers replaced an organic polymer with copper iodide, which is cheaper and inorganic. The copper iodide produced power conversion efficiencies as high as 6 percent. Although comparable cells with organic polymers can achieve close to 8-percent efficiency, copper iodide could surpass that level with a few refinements to the solar cell, according to the researchers, who published their study in the December Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame believe they have found a less expensive alternative to the organic polymers currently used in solar cells. Photo credit: University of Notre Dame

“Of all the potential renewable energy sources available, solar energy is really the only option that has the potential to completely meet humanity’s energy needs,” Christians said in a University of Notre Dame College of Science publication. “However, to reach this ambitious goal, there needs to be a transformative solar cell technology that dramatically lowers the cost for consumers.”

The group's goal is commercial competitiveness, which would come with 10-percent efficiency. They have already identified areas and ideas to optimize the perovskite and hole-conducting layers to better the performance of the perovskite solar cells.

“This is our first attempt to employ bench-top technology to design simple and cheaper solar cells with efficiencies competitive with current commercial photovoltaic devices,” Christians said. “This work opens the door for further research and the exploration of a range of inorganic materials, potentially making these already inexpensive solar cells even more affordable.”

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.

Read More Show Less
Greta Thunberg stands aboard the catamaran La Vagabonde as she sets sail to Europe in Hampton, Virginia, on Nov. 13. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist whose weekly school strikes have spurred global demonstrations, has cut short her tour of the Americas and set sail for Europe to attend COP25 in Madrid next month, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
A general view of the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on Nov. 13 in Venice. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / Getty Images

Two people have died as Venice has been inundated by the worst flooding it has seen in more than 50 years, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Supply boats beside Aberdeen Wind Farm on Aug. 4, 2018. Rab / CC BY 2.0

President Donald Trump doesn't like wind turbines.

In April, he claimed they caused cancer, and he sued to stop an offshore wind farm that was scheduled to go up near land he had purchased for a golf course in Aberdeenshire in Scotland. He lost that fight, and now the Trump Organization has agreed to pay the Scottish government $290,000 to cover its legal fees, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less