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Hybrid Solar Cell Converts Both Light and Heat, Hits Record Efficiency

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55f05fb09ba17Scientists have developed the most efficient hybrid solar cell to date, which produces electricity from both heat and light.

The concept of hybrid solar cells have been around for quite some time, with various scientific teams around the world trying to combine different materials in order to boost electricity generation of this already pretty efficient technology. Such hybrid invention came out not too long ago by researchers from South Korea, who used nanotechnology to create hybrid solar cells that can convert both sound and light into electricity.

Now, just over a year later, the same team of scientists, decided to test the efficiency of another type of hybrid solar cells, which can convert light and heat into power.

The new technology comprises of different layers, one is a dye-sensitized solar cell, placed on top of a conductive polymer called PEDOT, known for its ability to heat up when exposed to direct light. Below this there is a pyroelectric thin film, connected to a thermoelectric device. By including these films, the technology was able to convert the light, which the solar cell does not manage to utilize, into heat that is then converted into electricity.

The incorporation of heat-converting elements proved to be highly successful. This system was found to have 20% higher efficiency than the solar cell alone. Explained in more simple words, the new hybrid solar cell was capable to supply enough power to operate an LED lamp and an electrochromic display.

The instruments needed to build a hybrid solar cell are often way too expensive to make such technology viable, however, with this newly achieved efficiency, it might well be that the initial investment is finally worthwile.

More details about the technology, as well as a comprehensive description of the tests can be found in the publication, which appears in the latest issue of the journal American Chemical Society (ACS) Nano.

Image (c) phys.org

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