A team of professors and students from the Okayama Graduate School of Science and Technology led by Professor Naoshi Ikeda has built a unique solar cell that uses an iron oxide substrate instead of silicon, making the cell not only cheaper, but, as the professor claims, 100 times more powerful than anything based on silicon.
The compound has been named “green ferrite (GF),” and harvests the infrared spectrum of light, hence the material’s ability to not only collect light coming from the sun but also from all of the hotter objects in your home or car. Thermoelectric materials are already doing this, but not with such great efficiency figures, so Ikeda’s invention is welcomed.
The team’s aim is to build a solar panel that’s capable of generating 1000 watts of electricity 1000 times cheaper than a traditional silicon solar cell. Each GF-based cell would cost about $12 and would be flexible, since the ferrite is used in a powdered form.
A commercial product is expected by 2013.