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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

Roll-on Solar, Roll-on

Perovskite Ink Solar Cells (credit: NREL)

A solar energy breakthrough was made with the photovoltaic (PV) material, perovskite. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), part of the US Department of Energy (DOE), created an "ink" with perovskite that can be sprayed onto a surface that generates an electric current. The inky material is being tested in combination with silicon solar cells to create a rolled-out form. Perovskite is more efficient at converting sunlight to electricity than standard silicon, used in solar panels manufactured today. If the combined material can be manufactured into panels with dual generating capacities a second revolution in solar power may have arrived.

Since silicon PV materials were discovered, their solar conversion efficiency has risen from an original 3% to a bit over 22% today. Perovskite efficiencies 26% have been observed, mostly at laboratory scales. Production of these far higher efficiency cells has proved difficult due to their brittle crystalline nature. According to Colorado based NREL, the breakthrough of a photovoltaic ink offers the opportunity for "scalable production of thin films for high-efficiency solar cells".

Research into advanced solar materials is part of DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Office with the continuing goal of continuing to drive down the costs of renewable energy costs and solar power adoption. More effort is required to determine a manufacturing process and commercial pricing for roll-on perovskite solar films. However, this hasn't stopped architects and designers from envisioning a future day when buildings are coated in the new solar-generating material and they turn into entire solar power generators themselves.

The efforts at creating a perovskite solar cell was first published in Nature Energy and rapid improvements have followed. One British company, Oxford Solar, has begun construction of a plant to manufacture the new solar cells. A geeky 'deep dive' into a myriad of perovskite developments, which some are calling a second solar energy revolution, has been produced. We will see when and where all this solar excitement begins to roll-out on a building or roof top near you. WHB

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