Clean energy, solar cells to wear on clothes

Rome, March 19 (

In the future, photovoltaic cells could be ‘worn’ over clothes, or placed on cars or even above the umbrellas on the beach. These are just some of the possible developments of a study just published in Nature Communications from researchers from the Physics department of the Politecnico di Milano, in collaboration with some colleagues from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and Imperial College London.

The research, which sees among the authors the researcher of the Institute of Photonics and Nanotechnologies (Ifn-Cnr) Franco VA Camargo and the full professor Giulio Cerullo, focused on photovoltaic cells made with organic technology, with a flexible structure. “The most common photovoltaic cells today, based on silicon technology, on the other hand, they are rigid in structure and require sophisticated and expensive infrastructures for their manufacture as well as high disposal costs “underline from PoliMi.

According to scientists, an alternative to replace silicon in the future comes from ‘plastic’ solar cells, in which “a mixture of two organic semiconductors, one donor and one acceptor of electrons, is used for the absorption of light energy and its conversion into electrical energy “. The study explains that” the use of Organic molecules brings several advantages, such as simpler technology, a reduced production and disposal cost, mechanical flexibility and access to the chemical diversity associated with organic materials “.

On the other hand, however, the researchers point out that “organic materials have a much more complex physics than that of crystalline inorganic materials such as silicon, in particular with regard to charge transfer processes at the donor-acceptor interfaces, which cause losses. of efficiency “.

After four years of work, the researchers succeeded in making solar cells with new materials where losses due to interface states are minimized. By studying these materials with ultra-short laser pulses they were able to identify the physical reasons behind this exceptional performance, presenting a general optimization model that is also valid for other combinations of materials. In the future, photovoltaic cells made with organic technology they will be a cheaper source of energy with less environmental impact. And, given their mechanical flexibility, they can be inserted into various objects of common use such as windows, cars, or even clothes and coats.

Finally, PoliMi explains that the study is part of the renewable energy sector, given that one of the key challenges for the future of humanity is the development of clean and renewable sources of energy. The main source of energy for the Earth is sunlight, which provides more than 100 times more energy than it needs every day. overall humanity, thus making photovoltaic technologies among the most promising for the future e Italy, in particular, thanks to the low cloud climate, it has one of the greatest photovoltaic potentialsi in Europe, comparable to that of tropical non-desert countries. (by Andreana d’Aquino)


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