Breakthrough in Self-Sustaining Photovoltaics

A team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison is currently hard at work improving an advanced solar cell that stores and dispenses power concurrently. Hongrui Jiang, an electrical engineering brainbox at the institution, led a team of students in creating a solar panel that could deliver energy from sunlight and keep excess power for later use.

The innovation will find applications in solar-driven devices without the need for clumsy and sizeable batteries. In the design, a conventional photo electrode can be found on the uppermost layer of every photovoltaic cell, working to convert light from the sun into electrons. What happens during the conversion process is fascinating. The electrons diverge and move in two different directions – one towards a power load and the other to zinc oxide nanowires coated with polyvinylidene fluoride polymer. The polymer lends itself well as a storage medium because of its high dielectric constant.

The next step involves improving the conversion rate and reserve size of the device. As it is, the photoreceptor can only convert 4% of the electricity it receives, a figure that is some way below most of the solar panels presently in service in the market.

The design appears to be a significant development in the field of solar energy, and we invite our readers to leave a comment about the potential applications this technology can have.

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