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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

New Solar Cell Design Turns Rain to Energy/RNN

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Is this the “Holy Grail,” that the solar industry has been looking for, the ability to generate energy when it’s raining?
Cloudy, rainy weather often affects the amount of electricity generated by solar cells. But that may be a thing of a past if efforts coming out of China has anything to do with it. By attaching a transparent nano-generator to solar cells, a Chinese research team has recently developed a device that can generate electricity using raindrops when it rains.
Researchers Sun Xuhui and Sun Baoquan of the Institute of Functional Nano and Soft Matter of Soochow University in China reported in the latest issue of the American Chemical Society Nano Magazine that the hybrid device consists of a traditional silicon-based solar cell and a “friction nanogenerator”. “The composition, which can convert the mechanical energy that drops raindrops into electrical energy.”
“Friction Nanogenerators” was first proposed by Prof. Wang Zhonglin’s team at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States. Previous studies have shown that these two types of equipment can be connected together by an external wiring. In this new design, solar cells and “frictional nanogenerators” are integrated into one body through a common electrode. Researchers believe that this design is simpler and greatly improves the output efficiency.
The researchers used a high-conductivity polymer aqueous polymer solution to make the device’s common electrode film. Wen Zhen, the first author of the paper, told Xinhua News Agency reporters that when the raindrops fall, the water droplets are triboelectrically charged with the “frictional nanogenerators” that act as friction layers, and the common electrode thin film acts as a charge-sensitive layer to induce and derive charges.
Wen Zhen said that because the friction layer is transparent, it will hardly affect the incident sunlight, so it will not affect the normal operation of the solar cell itself. When it rains, it can also collect the kinetic energy of falling rain, expanding the scope of energy collection, in the existing large-scale application of silicon-based solar cells, there is a good application prospects.
It’s always both exciting and encouraging when we see such news in the clean energy field, it just goes to show that we are still in the early stages of what the possibilities are and that our own creative minds have no boundaries. Congratulations to the team at Suzhou University!

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