A new type of solar cell, which doesn’t require the sun and can produce energy indoors? You heard it here first! By harnessing ambient indoor light in your home or office with these organic cells. Scientists have discovered a way for us to generate electricity without relying on external sources.
Who would have thought that the light from the lightbulb could power itself? Well, not quite yet. The cells produce electricity just enough for a few million products and gadgets in the internet of things (IoT) era — that’s exactly what Swedish and Chinese scientists had planned all along.
Scientists are predicting that in the future we will need to have millions of products online, both at home and around public spaces. For example sensors for moisture levels, particle concentrations, temperature, and other parameters. The required amount of renewable energy for these low-energy consuming devices is only a small amount. The thought of constant replacement of batteries for these devices is very inconvenient, but you don’t have to worry anymore, the solution is here in organic indoor solar cells.
Reasons Why Solar Cells Are Great:
• Very affordable to manufacture
• The cells are flexible
• The ability to produce large surfaces on a printing press.
• The light-absorbing layer consists of a mixture of donor and acceptor materials (which gives solar cells the ability to be tuned for different spectra)
With the collaboration of researchers in Beijing, China, led by Jianhui Hou, and Linköping, Sweden, led by Feng Gao, a new combination of donor and acceptor materials was developed. The active layer in an organic solar cell is like a magical recipe. It has carefully chosen ingredients that absorb wavelengths of light around us, from our living rooms or libraries, and even at a Mall.
The article goes on to describe two different solar cells. One variant has an area of 1 cm² and the other 4 cm². The smaller solar cell was able to produce 26.1% energy from ambient light when exposed at 1000 lux. In between 200 and 1000 lux, smaller solar cells can deliver a voltage above 1V for more than 1000 hours. compared to the smaller solar cell, the larger solar cell wasn’t as strong but it is still good. It maintained an energy efficiency of 23%.
Feng Gao said, “This work indicates great promise for organic solar cells to be widely used in our daily life for powering the internet of things.”
Jianhui Hou added, “We are confident that the efficiency of organic solar cells will be further improved for ambient light applications in coming years because there is still a large room for optimization of the materials used in this work.”
However, this study is not new at all. Linköping University has been continuing this research with the leadership of Olle Inganäs (a world leader in the field of organic solar cells). They say that the focus of their team now is on commercializing solar cells for indoor use.
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