Self-healing photo voltaic panels could also be the way forward for dependable clear power
A material commonly used in solar panels has been found to repair itself if damaged – and scientists believe this ability could be critical to the future of clean energy.
The substance, called antimony selenide, is a so-called solar absorber material. This means that solar energy can be used and converted into electricity.
The Team at the University of York, UK Those who made this discovery are now investigating how this technology can be used to produce more durable solar modules that can potentially “heal themselves” if damaged.
One of the major barriers to advancement in this type of technology is the reliability and longevity of cells. Solar modules currently have an average lifespan of between 25 and 30 years. Hence, developing technologies that can repair themselves could be a major breakthrough.
The surprising self-healing ability of antimony selenide is similar to that of the offspring of a starfish or reptile after an accident, explains Professor Keith McKenna, who led the research.
“The process by which this semiconducting material heals itself is more like the process of how a salamander grows limbs back when it’s severed,” he says. “Antimony selenide repairs broken bonds that are created when it is broken by forming new ones.” .
“This ability is as unusual in the material world as it is in the animal kingdom and has important implications for the application of these materials in optoelectronics and photochemistry.”
What is the future of solar energy?
Solar energy is a technology that people all over the world want to perfect. With many governments pledging to zero in the next 10 to 30 years, securing reliable alternatives to fossil fuels is critical.
Researcher at GlobalData believe that space-based solar energy (SBSP) could be the key to a full transition to green energy. SBSP uses mirror-like reflectors that are positioned on satellites that orbit the earth. These reflectors would concentrate the solar energy on solar collectors so that the electricity can also be used outside of daylight hours.
Right now, solar panels collect electricity an average of 29 percent of the day, but SBSP would mean they could be lit up 99 percent.
Currently, SBSP is purely conceptual, but scientists believe it could soon become a reality. The US Naval Research Laboratory conducted its first test in this area last May.
Scientists created in South Korea earlier this year the first fully transparent solar panelThis could be an important step towards using solar energy in the home. Traditionally, they are opaque due to the semiconductor layers in the cells, but researchers at Incheon University were able to use titanium dioxide and nickel oxide instead.
Last year double sided solar panels were also first developed which were found to be 35 percent more effective.