Scientists in Singapore have discovered a new material that acts as a solar panel in the day, and a light panel at night.
The researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed solar cells from a material called Perovskite. These cells don’t just convert sunlight to electricity, but also have the capacity to emit light.
Such a material could be used to make cell phone or tablet screens that can be recharged simply by exposing them to sunlight.
“What we have discovered is that because it is a high quality material, and very durable under light exposure, it can capture light particles and convert them to electricity, or vice versa,” said Assistant Professor Sum Tse Chien, a Singaporean scientist at NTU’s School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (SPMS).
Credit: Nanyang Technological University
“By tuning the composition of the material, we can make it emit a wide range of colours, which also makes it suitable as a light emitting device, such as flat screen displays.”
The discovery was made when Assistant Professor Sum asked his postdoctoral researcher to shine a laser on the new Perovskite solar cell material they have been working on – and the solar cell glowed!
“What we have now is a solar cell material that can be made semi-translucent. It can be used as tinted glass to replace current windows, yet it is able to generate electricity from sunlight,” said Assistant Professor Nripan Mathews, another of the researchers responsible for this discovery.
“The fact that it can also emit light makes it useful as light decorations or displays for the facades of shopping malls and offices,” said Dr Mathews.
Thanks to an easy manufacturing process, this Perskovite material is five times less expensive than current Silicon-based solar cells.
“Such a versatile yet low-cost material would be a boon for green buildings. Since we are already working on the scaling up of these materials for large-scale solar cells, it is pretty straightforward to modify the procedures to fabricate light emitting devices as well. More significantly, the ability of this material to lase, has implications for on-chip electronic devices that source, detect and control light,” he added.