Electronic engineering and chemistry researchers are on a mission to find alternate methods of increasing the amount of energy that photovoltaic devices absorb. This is in an effort to increase the amount of energy that solar panels absorb, as maximum absorption is crucial for them to be efficient. The research is being spearheaded by University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University researchers with support from the Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Science as well as other engineering and energy conservation organizations.
The researchers have being carrying out a series of experiments for over five years now to come up with a theory that will make solar cell construction cheaper and easier to manufacture. For this to be possible they had to find materials that exhibit great amounts of photovoltaic effects to transmit visible light as there are currently no known existing materials with these properties.
The research team sought to use their expertise in materials science to invent a new structure and measure its properties. In order to do this, they faced an enormous challenge to find materials that could keep their polar properties and at the same time absorb visible light.
The team theorized that they would need to physically produce specific perovskite crystals but failed several times to achieve this. After many failed attempts, they finally succeeded in combining, potassium niobate, barium nickel niobate and polar material. When compared to the materials currently used in thin film solar technology, these materials consist of relatively cheap non-toxic elements that are in great abundance.