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Solar Cell

— Environment

Heliatek claims new conversion efficiency record for organic PV cells

German solar technology firm Heliatek claims to have outdone itself by setting a new world record for directly converting sunlight into electricity using organic photovoltaic cells. In 2012 it claimed a then world record 10.7 percent conversion efficiency and said it was gunning for 15 percent in the near future. This week it announced it's halfway there, achieving a new record of 13.2 percent.

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— Environment

Cheaper, longer-lasting perovskite solar cells could be on the way

Perovskite solar cells are one of the most exciting green energy technologies to emerge in recent years, combining low cost with high energy conversion rates. Now, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have found a way to cut their cost even further by developing a charge-carrying material that is much cheaper, highly efficient, and could even help address the technology's current major weakness by significantly lengthening the lifespan of the panels.

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— Materials

New glass coating could lead to omnidirectional solar panels

It's important to give careful consideration to the direction that rooftop solar panels are facing in order to pull maximum energy from the sun, but a new type of material might mean their orientation is less of a concern. Researchers have developed a special glass coating they claim could enable panels to soak up sunlight from multiple angles, significantly boosting the cell efficiency and energy yields in the process.

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— Environment

Transparent coating keeps solar cells cool and efficient throughout the day

Stanford engineers have developed a transparent silicon overlay that can increase the efficiency of solar cells by keeping them cool. The cover collects and then radiates heat directly into space, without interfering with incoming photons. If mass-produced, the development could be used to cool down any device in the open air for instance, to complement air conditioning in cars.

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— Materials

High-efficiency, semi-transparent perovskite/graphene solar cells created at low cost

With the continued rise in the uptake of solar cells, consumers are now looking at less obtrusive ways to incorporate these in buildings and vehicles. Transparent or semi-transparent cells provide greater flexibility and visual appeal than standard, opaque silicon solar cells, however their relatively high-cost and poor efficiencies have meant that their adoption has been slow. To help remedy this, researchers working at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) have created semi-transparent, efficient, low-cost perovskite solar cells with graphene electrodes. Read More
— Environment

Kirigami-inspired solar cells twist to track the sun

One of the challenges facing designers of traditional flat solar panels is the fact that the sun doesn't conveniently stay in one place. This means that in order for a panel to receive as much sunlight as possible, it has to pan with the sun as it moves across the sky. While there are motorized assemblies designed to do just that, they add complexity, weight and expense to photovoltaic systems. Now, however, University of Michigan scientists have developed a simpler alternative – and it's based on the ancient Japanese cut-paper art of kirigami.

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— Environment

Study claims perovskite solar cells can recoup their energy cost within three months

Scientists at Northwestern University and the U.S. Department of Energy have found that perovskite cells, one of the most promising solar technologies of recent years, can repay their energy cost over 10 times faster than traditional silicon-based solar cells. The finding confirms that, once issues related to cell longevity are ironed out, perovskite cells could soon bring us solar energy on the cheap, and do so with less impact on the environment over their lifetime.

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