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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Roll-on Solar

Roll-on Solar

Perovskite Ink Solar Cells (credit: NREL)

A solar energy breakthrough using a new photovoltaic (PV) material known as perovskite was announced. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), part of the US Department of Energy, has created an "ink" made of perovskite that can be sprayed onto a surface and generate an electric current. The new material could eventually be rolled into a flexible format.

Perovskite is efficient at converting sunlight into electricity and in combination with the standard silicon can be manufactured into solar panels. Since its discovery, the solar conversion efficiency has risen from an original 3% to over 25% today. This level of efficiency has mostly at laboratory and demonstration scale due to difficulties in production of the crystaline material. According NREL based in Colorado, the Lab's photovoltaic ink offers the opportunity for "scalable production of thin films for high-efficiency solar cells".

The goal of the NREL research is to create solar conversion efficiencie rates that might exceed 30% of the photons (sunlight) hitting a surface and converting them into electricity. More work is required on manufacturing and pricing for the perovskite roll-on solar films but that hasn't stopped architects and designers from envisioning buildings coated in the new PV material and becoming entire electricity generators by themselves.

The solar materials research is part of the SunShot Initiative of the Energy Department with their continuing goal of continuing to drive down renewable energy costs and solar power adoption. The new solar ink breakthrough was published in Nature Energy here.


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