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Energy solar cells  the next non toxic generation | Upload Solar

Solar Cells: The Next Non-Toxic Generation

by: Hans van der Broek
solar cells  the next non toxic generation | Upload

Researchers have demonstrated how a non-toxic alternative to lead could form the basis of next-generation solar cells. Solar cells: the next non-toxic generation with bismuth.

Solar Cells: Green Element

At the University of Cambridge and the United States, the researchers used theoretical and experimental methods to show how bismuth – the so-called “green element” that sits next to lead on the periodic table be used in low-cost solar cells.

Their results, reported in the journal Advanced Materials, suggest that solar cells incorporating bismuth can replicate the properties that enable read-based solar cells' exceptional properties without the same toxicity concerns.

Later calculations by another research group showed that bismuth-based cells could convert light into energy at efficiencies up to 22%, comparable to the most advanced solar cells currently on the market.

Solar Cells Made From Silicon

Most of the solar cells which we see covering fields and rooftops are made from silicon. Although silicon is highly efficient at converting light into energy, it has a very low 'defect tolerance,' meaning that the silicon needs to have very high purity levels, making it energy-intensive to produce.

Over the past several years, researchers have been looking for materials that can perform at similar or better levels to silicon but don’t need such high purity levels, making them cheaper to produce. The most promising group of these new materials are called hybrid lead halide perovskites, which appear to promise a revolution in the field of solar energy.

Recommended: Solar Powered Silent 55 Yacht: Cruise The World

As well as being cheap and easy to produce, perovskite solar cells have become almost as energy-efficient as silicon in the space of a few years. However, despite their enormous potential, perovskite solar cells are also somewhat controversial within the scientific community since lead is integral to their chemical structure. Whether the information contained within perovskite solar cells represents a tangible risk to humans, animals, and the environment is debated. However, some scientists are now searching for non-toxic materials that could replace the lead in perovskite solar cells without negatively affecting performance.

layers-of-material-forming-the-perovskite-solar-cell
An international team of scientists claims to have developed perovskite solar cells with an efficiency of 18.1% 

“We wanted to find out why defects don’t appear to affect the performance of lead halide perovskite solar cells as much as they would in other materials,” said Dr. Robert Hoye of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory and Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy, and the paper’s lead author. “If we can figure out what’s special about them, then perhaps we can replicate their properties using non-toxic materials.”

Bismuth: Known As The 'Green Element.'

In collaboration with colleagues at MIT, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Colorado School of Mines in the US, the Cambridge researchers have shown that bismuth, which sits next to lead in the periodic table, could be a non-toxic alternative to lead for use in next-generation solar cells. Bismuth, known as the “green element,” is widely used in cosmetics, personal care products, and medicines. Like lead, it is a heavy metal, but it is non-toxic.

For this study, Hoye and his colleagues looked at bismuth oxyiodide, a previously investigated material for use in solar cells and water splitting. Still, it was not thought to be suitable because of low efficiencies and degradation in liquid electrolytes. The researchers used theoretical and experimental methods to revisit this material for possible use in solid-state solar cells.

Recommended: Solar Space Farms: Next Step In Renewable Energy

They found that bismuth oxyiodide is as tolerant of defects as lead halide perovskites. Bismuth oxyiodide is also stable in the air for at least 197 days, significantly improving some lead halide perovskite compounds. By sandwiching the bismuth oxyiodide light absorber between two oxide electrodes, they demonstrated a record performance, with the device converting 80% of light to an electrical charge.

pins-under-rectangular-plates
Photo by Steve Penney. Bismuth oxyiodide light absorbers 

“Bismuth oxyiodide has all the right physical property attributes for new, highly efficient light absorbers,” said co-author Professor Judith Driscoll of the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy. “I first thought of this compound around five years ago, but it took the highly specialized experimental and theoretical skills of a large team for us to prove that this material has real practical potential.”

“This work shows that earlier theories about bismuth oxyiodide were not wrong, and these compounds do have the potential to be successful solar cells,” said Hoye, who is a Junior Research Fellow at Magdalene College. “We’re just scratching the surface of what these compounds can do.”

“Previously, the global solar cell research community has been searching for non-toxic materials that replicate the defect tolerance of the perovskites, but without much success in terms of photovoltaic performance,” said Dr. David Scanlon, a theorist at UCL not involved in this work. “When I saw this work, my team calculated based on the optical properties that bismuth oxyiodide has a theoretical limit of 22% efficiency, which is comparable to silicon and the best perovskite solar cells. There’s a lot more we could get from this material by building off this team’s work.”

Article adapted from a University of Cambridge news release.

Publication: Strongly Enhanced Photovoltaic Performance and Defect Physics of Air-Stable Bismuth Oxyiodide (BiOI). Hoye, RLZ et al. Advanced Materials 

Before you go!

Recommended: Solar Heat: Play Between Mirrors And A Tower

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Founder and CEO of WhatsOrb, world traveller, entrepreneur and environmental activist. Hans has countless ideas and has set up several businesses in the Netherlands and abroad. He also has an opinion on everything and unlimited thoughts about how to create a better world. He likes hiking and has climbed numerous five-thousanders (mountain summits of at least 5000m or 16,404 feet in elevation)

 

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Founder and CEO of WhatsOrb, world traveller, entrepreneur and environmental activist. Hans has countless ideas and has set up several businesses in the Netherlands and abroad. He also has an opinion on everything and unlimited thoughts about how to create a better world. He likes hiking and has climbed numerous five-thousanders (mountain summits of at least 5000m or 16,404 feet in elevation)

 

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Solar Cells: The Next Non-Toxic Generation

Researchers have demonstrated how a non-toxic alternative to lead could form the basis of next-generation solar cells. Solar cells: the next non-toxic generation with bismuth. Solar Cells: Green Element At the University of Cambridge and the United States, the researchers used theoretical and experimental methods to show how bismuth – the so-called “green element” that sits next to lead on the periodic table be used in low-cost solar cells. Their results, reported in the journal Advanced Materials, suggest that solar cells incorporating bismuth can replicate the properties that enable read-based solar cells' exceptional properties without the same toxicity concerns. Later calculations by another research group showed that bismuth-based cells could convert light into energy at efficiencies up to 22%, comparable to the most advanced solar cells currently on the market. Solar Cells Made From Silicon Most of the solar cells which we see covering fields and rooftops are made from silicon. Although silicon is highly efficient at converting light into energy, it has a very low 'defect tolerance,' meaning that the silicon needs to have very high purity levels, making it energy-intensive to produce. Over the past several years, researchers have been looking for materials that can perform at similar or better levels to silicon but don’t need such high purity levels, making them cheaper to produce. The most promising group of these new materials are called hybrid lead halide perovskites, which appear to promise a revolution in the field of solar energy. Recommended:  Solar Powered Silent 55 Yacht: Cruise The World As well as being cheap and easy to produce, perovskite solar cells have become almost as energy-efficient as silicon in the space of a few years. However, despite their enormous potential, perovskite solar cells are also somewhat controversial within the scientific community since lead is integral to their chemical structure. Whether the information contained within perovskite solar cells represents a tangible risk to humans, animals, and the environment is debated. However, some scientists are now searching for non-toxic materials that could replace the lead in perovskite solar cells without negatively affecting performance. An international team of scientists claims to have developed perovskite solar cells with an efficiency of 18.1%  “We wanted to find out why defects don’t appear to affect the performance of lead halide perovskite solar cells as much as they would in other materials,” said Dr. Robert Hoye of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory and Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy, and the paper’s lead author. “If we can figure out what’s special about them, then perhaps we can replicate their properties using non-toxic materials.” Bismuth: Known As The 'Green Element.' In collaboration with colleagues at MIT, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Colorado School of Mines in the US, the Cambridge researchers have shown that bismuth, which sits next to lead in the periodic table, could be a non-toxic alternative to lead for use in next-generation solar cells. Bismuth, known as the “green element,” is widely used in cosmetics, personal care products, and medicines. Like lead, it is a heavy metal, but it is non-toxic. For this study, Hoye and his colleagues looked at bismuth oxyiodide, a previously investigated material for use in solar cells and water splitting. Still, it was not thought to be suitable because of low efficiencies and degradation in liquid electrolytes. The researchers used theoretical and experimental methods to revisit this material for possible use in solid-state solar cells. Recommended:  Solar Space Farms: Next Step In Renewable Energy They found that bismuth oxyiodide is as tolerant of defects as lead halide perovskites. Bismuth oxyiodide is also stable in the air for at least 197 days, significantly improving some lead halide perovskite compounds. By sandwiching the bismuth oxyiodide light absorber between two oxide electrodes, they demonstrated a record performance, with the device converting 80% of light to an electrical charge. Photo by Steve Penney. Bismuth oxyiodide light absorbers  “Bismuth oxyiodide has all the right physical property attributes for new, highly efficient light absorbers,” said co-author Professor Judith Driscoll of the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy. “I first thought of this compound around five years ago, but it took the highly specialized experimental and theoretical skills of a large team for us to prove that this material has real practical potential.” “This work shows that earlier theories about bismuth oxyiodide were not wrong, and these compounds do have the potential to be successful solar cells,” said Hoye, who is a Junior Research Fellow at Magdalene College. “We’re just scratching the surface of what these compounds can do.” “Previously, the global solar cell research community has been searching for non-toxic materials that replicate the defect tolerance of the perovskites, but without much success in terms of photovoltaic performance,” said Dr. David Scanlon, a theorist at UCL not involved in this work. “When I saw this work, my team calculated based on the optical properties that bismuth oxyiodide has a theoretical limit of 22% efficiency, which is comparable to silicon and the best perovskite solar cells. There’s a lot more we could get from this material by building off this team’s work.” Article adapted from a University of Cambridge news release. Publication: Strongly Enhanced Photovoltaic Performance and Defect Physics of Air-Stable Bismuth Oxyiodide (BiOI). Hoye, RLZ et al. Advanced Materials  Before you go! Recommended:  Solar Heat: Play Between Mirrors And A Tower Do you like this article about Gravitricity, or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write and publish your article about renewable energy? Send your writing & scribble with a photo to  [email protected] , and we will write an interesting article based on your input. Do you like to invite somebody to join WhatsOrb? Click on: Invite A Friend
Stay Updated on Environmental Improvements And Global Innovations