• Tech Tech

Scientists make game-changing advancement in bid to make solar power cheaper: 'Could be implemented across various … formulations'

"We wanted to figure out what features on the molecules specifically improve the perovskite's stability."

"We wanted to figure out what features on the molecules specifically improve the perovskite’s stability."

Photo Credit: iStock

Researchers at the University of Michigan may have just made a discovery that could result in solar panels becoming two to four times cheaper in the future, SciTechDaily reported.

The discovery centered on a mineral called perovskite, which has been referred to as a "miracle material" when it comes to solar panels because of its incredible light absorption qualities and relative inexpensiveness. However, perovskite also degrades too quickly for it to be viable in commercially produced solar panels.

The research, led by University of Michigan assistant professor of chemical engineering Xiwen Gong, attempted to find ways to make perovskite more durable and longer-lasting. She and her team found that "defect pacifying" could help increase the perovskites' stability and overall lifespan — by using various additive molecules to affect the hardiness of the cells.

"We wanted to figure out what features on the molecules specifically improve the perovskite's stability," said Hongki Kim, one of the study's authors.

The researchers concluded that larger molecules by mass were better at preventing defects from forming, as they had an easier time sticking to the perovskite. They also found that the molecules worked better when they were wider, which resulted in larger perovskite grains.

"Both the size and configuration are important when designing additives, and we believe this design philosophy could be implemented across various perovskite formulations to further improve the lifetime of perovskite solar cells, light emitting devices, and photodetectors," said Carlos Alejandro Figueroa Morales, another of the researchers behind the study.

Rooftop solar panels have become increasingly popular in recent years, as more people want to generate clean, renewable energy to power their homes — saving money on energy bills in the long run — while reducing their reliance on dirty, polluting energy sources like gas and oil. 

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Scientific breakthroughs like this one that make solar panels cheaper to produce and more efficient at the same time can only help to drive that trend.

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