Today, the imminent climate change crisis demands a change from naturally-occurring fossil fuels to efficient sources of green energy. This has led to researchers looking to the idea of “personalized energy,” which would make onsite energy production possible. For example, solar cells may possibly be integrated into windows, vehicles, mobile screens, along with other everyday products. But for this, it’s very important to the solar panels to be durable and transparent. To this end, scientists have recently developed “transparent photovoltaic” (TPV) devices–translucent versions of the traditional solar cell.
Traditional solar cells may be “wet kind” (solution based) or”dry type” (composed of metal-oxide semiconductors). Of these, dry-type solar cells have a small advantage over the wet-type ones: they are more dependable, eco friendly, and economical. Moreover, metal-oxides are well-suited to use the UV light. Despite this, but the potential of metal-oxide transparent photovoltaics hasn’t been fully explored until now.
To this end, researchers in Incheon National University, Republic of Korea, created an innovative design for a metal-oxide-based transparent photovoltaic apparatus. They added an outermost layer layer of silicon (Si) involving 2 transparent metal-oxide semiconductors with the goal of developing an efficient transparent photovoltaic device. These findings have been published in a study in Nano Energy. Prof Joondong Kim, who headed the study, explains, “Our aim was to devise a high-power-producing transparent solar cell, by embedding an ultra-thin film of amorphous Si between zinc oxide and nickel oxide.”
This novel design consisting of the Si film had three major benefits. It allowed for the utilization of longer-wavelength light (as opposed to bare transparent photovoltaics). Secondly, it led in effective photon collection. Third, it allowed for the faster transport of particles into the electrodes. Moreover, the layout can potentially generate electricity even under low-light situations (for instance, on cloudy or rainy days). The scientists confirmed the power-generating the capability of the apparatus using it to operate the DC motor of a fan.
Based on these findings, the study team is optimistic that the real-life applicability of this new transparent photovoltaic design will soon be possible. In terms of possible applications, there are lots, as Prof Kim explains, “We hope to extend the use of our TPV design to all kinds of material, right from glass buildings to mobile devices like electric cars, smartphones, and sensors.” Not just this, the group is eager to take their style to another level, using innovative materials like 2D semiconductors, nanocrystals of metal-oxides, and sulfide semiconductors. As Prof Kim concludes, “Our research is essential for a sustainable green future–especially to connect the clean energy system with no or minimal carbon footprint.”
Related Journal Article: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2211285520306674?via%3Dihub