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The answer to harnessing cost-effective solar power may be just around the corner.
A team of researchers from the University of Alberta developed a cost-effective solar cell made with spray-paint like synthetics, and are now touting it as the breakthrough that will prove solar power isn’t as expensive to harness as we thought.
Jillian Buriak, a chemistry professor at the University of Alberta used zinc and phosphide nanoparticles in their research, saying this is some of the most promising material in the solar cell industry, and far more common than materials currently used in solar panels, such as cadmium.
Buriak and his team found these particles dissolved to form an ink. When sprayed and dried, the thin film was responsive to light.
Essentially, they have designed nanoparticles that absorb light and conduct electricity from two very common elements: phosphorus and zinc. Both materials are more plentiful than scarce materials such as cadmium and are free from manufacturing restrictions imposed on lead-based nanoparticles.
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The discovery could be important step in making solar power more accessible and affordable to parts of the world that are off the traditional electricity grid or face high power costs.
"Half the world already lives off the grid, and with demand for electrical power expected to double by the year 2050, it is important that renewable energy sources like solar power are made more affordable by lowering the costs of manufacturing," Buriak said.
Organic solar cells need to reach a conversion efficiency of about 10% to be competitive in the mainstream market. The goal is to make the “solar paint” almost as cheap as regular paint.
If solar paint reaches the market, it will be much easier to apply than current solar panels.
Researchers have applied for a provisional patent and secured funding to enable the next step to scale up manufacture.
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com