A team of researchers at the University of Oxford have recently found a new method to make solar cells from a cheap metal oxide that exists in toothpaste.
The leader of the group, Dr Henry Snaith at the physics department, combined the oxide with a thin dye printed onto glass to convert the energy generated by the sun into clean electricity.
According to the researchers, the glass can be produced in a range of different transparent colors for use in cladding buildings and windows. “It opens up a lot of versatility and a lot of possibilities for building design,” said Dr Snaith.
Unlike other conventional technologies, the new manufacturing process has a smaller carbon footprint using abundant, non-toxic materials. Ollie Bennett, from MiPower, a company that specializes in installing solar panels claims that the new solar cells are amazing, and that he never saw something like that on the market. “I think this is a really good idea and it could be a forerunner,” he said.
Dr Snaith also said the new solar cells will get many improvements in the near future.
“But coupled with our extremely low cost of manufacture and processing and the ongoing research effort to improve the overall performance of the device, we think it’s only a short while till our performance will be competitive,” he said.