The scientist behind the discovery, professor Ravi Silva of the University of Surrey, claims that the new technology could significantly improve the harvesting and conversion of solar energy.
As the prices of conventional, or 3G, solar cells keep falling, it is becoming increasingly difficult for scientists and technology developers to create an improvement, which is not only better in terms of capabilities, but it can also maintain the low costs.
But it seems it was possible. The new 4G solar cells, engineered at a nanoscale, are characterized by the flexibility of conducting polymer films (the organic materials) and the stable nanostructures (inorganic materials).
During the 10th International Conference on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology earlier this month, professor Silva introduced the so-called ‘inorganics-in-organics’ technology. The design maximizes the harvesting of solar radiation, which improves the efficiency of solar energy generation, while maintaining the low cost base of current 3G solar cells.
The innovative technology is developed as part of the the European Union FP7 SMARTONICS programme – a €11.6m project led by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The current aim of the project is to take the 4G solar cells to large-scale production, as scientists are now developing various tools and processes to achieve cost-efficient fabrication.
Professor Silva believes that solar power is the solution in many areas in the world as conventional electricity is not always an option. Considering the major improvements associated with the technology over the past few years, the competitiveness of solar in terms of electricity costs is now more apparent than ever.