Conventional solar cells can either be of the “wet type” (solution-based) or of the “dry type” (consisting of metal oxide semiconductors). Of these, dry solar cells have a slight advantage over wet solar cells: They are more reliable, more environmentally friendly and less expensive. In addition, metal oxides are well suited to use the UV light. Despite this, the potential of metal oxide TPVs has not yet been fully explored. For more information, see the IDTechEx report on Energy Harvesting Microwatt to Gigawatt: Opportunities 2020-2040.To this end, researchers at Incheon National University, Republic of Korea, developed an innovative design for a metal oxide-based TPV device. They inserted an ultra-thin layer of silicon (Si) between two transparent metal oxide semiconductors to develop an efficient TPV device. These results were published in a study in Nano Energy. . Prof. Joondong Kim, who led the study, explains: “Our goal was to develop a transparent solar cell with high power generation by embedding an ultra-thin film of amorphous Si between zinc oxide and nickel oxide.”
This novel design, made from the Si film, had three main advantages. First, it allowed longer wavelength light to be used (as opposed to bare TPVs). Second, it resulted in efficient photon collection. Third, it allowed charged particles to be transported to the electrodes more quickly. In addition, the design may also be able to generate electricity in low light conditions (such as on cloudy or rainy days). The scientists also confirmed the device’s ability to generate electricity by running the DC motor of a fan.
Based on these findings, the research team is optimistic that the practicality of this new TPV design will soon be possible. There are many for potential applications, as Prof. Kim explains: “We hope to extend the use of our TPV design to all types of materials, from glass buildings to mobile devices like electric cars, smartphones and sensors.” In addition, the team is excited to take its design to the next level by using innovative materials such as 2D semiconductors, nanocrystals made from metal oxides and sulfide semiconductors. As Prof. Kim concludes, “Our research is of vital importance for a sustainable green future – especially to connect the clean energy system with little or no carbon footprint.”Quelle: Incheon National University
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