A team of scientists led by a Korean professor invented new transparent solar panels that can eventually be used to charge smartphones.
Professor Joondong Kim and his colleagues from the Incheon National University in Korea, recently published their latest invention in the Journal of Power Sources on Jan. 1, according to Science Daily.
Kim and his team used two potential semiconductor materials for their invention: titanium dioxide (TiO2) and nickel oxide (NiO).
Titanium dioxide, a non-toxic and environment-friendly material, is a well-known semiconductor that contains strong electrical properties and is widely used in making solar cells. It can also absorb ultraviolet (UV) light while letting all the other visible light through.
Nickel oxide is a semiconductor known for having high optical transparency and can also be used for making eco-friendly cells. Production of nickel oxide is easily attainable as it is one of the most abundant elements on the planet, and can be made at low industrial temperatures.
Combining the two materials to create a solar cell — TiO2 first, then NiO with a final coating of silver nanowires that act as the other electrode in the cell — produced encouraging findings during the experiment.
In addition to being highly responsive in a low light setting, the solar cell also produced a 2.1% power conversion efficiency. The team also discovered more than 57% of visible light was transmitted through the cell’s layers. Their invention was able to power a small motor using the energy produced by the solar cells.
“While this innovative solar cell is still very much in its infancy, our results strongly suggest that further improvement is possible for transparent photovoltaics by optimizing the cell’s optical and electrical properties,” Professor Kim said.
He feels hopeful that their solar cell could have the potential for future use.
“The unique features of transparent photovoltaic cells could have various applications in human technology,” the professor said.
The scientific community has seen a huge boom in innovation related to renewable energy in the past few years. A 27-year-old Filipino inventor won the James Dyson award last year for creating a solar panel, which can also be used in a low light setting, using damaged crops.
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