While improving solar cells seems difficult, finding external solutions for solar cells to become more efficient can be simpler and more challenging for a larger number of people, excepting purebred solar cells scientists.
Such an interesting phenomenon happened to some researchers, who, while looking for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, accidentally discovered a nanomaterial that could make an excellent coating for more water/dust repelling and efficient solar cells.
The new material is made up of molecules of peptides that “grow” to resemble small forests of grass. And as if the coincidence wouldn’t had been enough, supercapacitors could also benefit from this nano-coating.
The researchers from Tel Aviv University found a solution for controlling the atoms and molecules of certain peptides, and to determine them to grow in the shape of nano-forests. The nano-tubules are resistant to extreme heat and water, also being water-repellent.
Such a coating could also improve the operation of solar panels, which can become up to 30% less efficient due to dust accumulating on their surface. This would also save money on maintenance and cleaning, which is especially a problem in dusty deserts, where many solar farms are installed.
As a capacitor with unusually high energy density, the researchers say the nano-tech material could also give electric batteries a boost. One of the limitations of the electric car is thrust, and the team thinks the research could lead to a solution to this difficult problem and provide the extra oomph required in starting an electric car, going up a hill, or passing other vehicles on the highway.
“Our technology may lead to a storage material with a high density,” says TAU graduate student Lihi Adler-Abramovich. “This is important when you need to generate a lot of energy in a short period of time. It could also be incorporated into today’s lithium batteries.”
Ultimately, the TAU researchers will develop their coating commercially, but will also continue to work on their original plan for finding a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.