SoloPoint Insights

New Solar Panel Materials Development Increases Efficiency, Decreases Costs

We all know how important developing new sources of energy is, and how vital it is to come up with new ways to produce power. As a society, we are desperately reliant on our power sources, and natural resources are becoming limited. In the push to develop a less expensive, more reliable and eco-friendly power alternative, new advances are being made.

Solar power is one of the most eco-friendly means of harnessing the sun’s natural energy for power. However, the materials that go into the panels that help produce this energy are expensive and many of them are not sustainable.

New research conducted by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University and carried out at Advanced Photon Source housed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory seems to be very promising in the field of solar energy.

These researchers have developed a new ceramic material that can be used to create solar panels that are less expensive and more importantly, contain materials that are sustainable. This new ceramic material would be used to replace the silicon based panels that are made today.

“This family of materials is all the more remarkable because it is composed of inexpensive, non-toxic and earth-abundant elements, unlike compound semiconductor materials currently used in efficient thin-film solar cell technology,” said Jonathan Spanier, a team member from Drexel’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Not only are the materials in this new ceramic more sustainable, they are also more efficient. The new material is thinner and has the ability to reverse polarity. This is exciting as it means that the former limits to the amount of energy that could be produced through solar panels will increase. The materials used in the study to create the ceramic panels were perovskite crystals made with a combination of potassium niobate and barium nickel niobate. It can absorb up to 60% more energy than panels made with other materials. The study took over five years to complete, but it appears as though it was a resounding success.

This is great news for engineering students and engineers interested in green technology. Over the next few years, the emphasis to produce energy in a eco-friendly and cost effective way is definitely going to improve. By learning how to create cheaper energy that is friendly to the planet, engineers not only have the ability to shape the world, but also to be at the forefront of these exciting new advances.

Want even more information about these new opportunities in engineering? Contact the experts at Solopoint Solutions today!