Can you imagine being able to recharge your smartphone or tablet just by lying it out in the sun? Well scientists from the Nanyang Technology University (NTU) have created the next-generation solar cell material, which not only converts light to electricity but also emits light.

The solar cell has been developed from the wonder material Perovskite, which could prove to be the answer in producing a highly efficient, inexpensive solar cells. As well as lighting up when electricity is passed through them, the light can be customized to glow various colours.

Scientists Create Solar Cell From A Brand New High-Effieciency Material

The discovery came about almost by accident when NTU physicist Sum Tze and postdoctoral researcher Xing Guichuan shined a laser onto the hybrid Perovskite solar cell material. They discovered that when a laser beam was shone onto the Perovskite solar cell, it glowed brightly, which was unusual as normal solar cell materials absorb light but do not generate any.

“What we have discovered is that because it is a high quality material, and very durable under light exposure, it can capture light particles and convert them to electricity, or vice versa,” said Asst Prof Sum, a Singaporean scientist at NTU’s School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (SPMS).

“By tuning the composition of the material, we can make it emit a wide range of colours, which also makes it suitable as a light emitting device, such as flat screen displays.”

‘A Boon For Green Buildings’

“What we have now is a solar cell material that can be made semi-translucent. It can be used as tinted glass to replace current windows, yet it is able to generate electricity from sunlight,” said assistant Professor Nripan Mathews from the School of Materials Science and Engineering.

This could radically change and improve so-called green buildings and the scientists are working on larger scale versions of the materials for use in large-scale solar cells.

“Such a versatile yet low-cost material would be a boon for green buildings. Since we are already working on the scaling up of these materials for large-scale solar cells, it is pretty straightforward to modify the procedures to fabricate light emitting devices as well. More significantly, the ability of this material to lase, has implications for on-chip electronic devices that source, detect and control light,” said Dr Matthews.

There is a patent pending on the new material, which cost five times less than the current Silicon-based solar cells.

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