APR 09, 2021 10:56 AM PDT

Is human hair the key to making perovskites solar cells more efficient?

Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology have designed a new technique to enhance solar cell efficiency using - wait for it - human hair. The unlikely findings from this study are published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A

According to Professor Hongxia Wang and Associate Professor Prashant Sonar of QUT's Centre for Materials Science, the carbon dots found on human hair can be adapted to improve the performance of perovskites solar cells. Perovskites solar cells are a form of photovoltaic technology that includes a perovskite-structured compound as the light-harvesting active layer, such as a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material. Perovskites have gained attention due to their high conversion efficiencies, flexibility, and the fact that they do not require monocrystalline silicon.

So, where did they get all those carbon nanodots, you ask? Why from barbershop hair, of course! Previous studies from the Sonar’s research team had determined that breaking down human hairs and subsequently burning them at 240 degrees celsius produces carbon dots that, as Professor Wang describes, create “a kind of protective layer, a kind of armor” when added to perovskites. "It protects the perovskite material from moisture or other environmental factors, which can cause damage to the materials," Wang adds.

Not only that, but the carbon dots give the perovskite solar cells a higher power conversion efficiency as well as greater stability. "I'm quite optimistic given how much this technology has improved so far," exclaims Professor Wang.

The team hopes that their findings will play a role in making solar more efficient and more accessible in the worldwide economy. "Our final target is to make solar electricity cheaper, easier to access, longer-lasting and to make PV devices lightweight because current solar cells are very heavy," Professor Wang said. 

"The big challenges in the area of perovskite solar cells are solving stability of the device to be able to operate for 20 years or longer and the development of a manufacturing method that is suitable for large-scale production. Currently, all the reported high-performance perovskite solar cells have been made in a controlled environment with an extremely low level of moisture and oxygen, with a very small cell area which is practically unfeasible for commercialization.” Wang concludes, “To make the technology commercially viable, challenges for fabrication of efficient large area, stable, flexible, perovskite solar panels at low cost needs to be overcome. This can only be achieved through a deep understanding of the material properties in large-scale production and under industrially compatible conditions."

Sources: Journal of Materials Chemistry A, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 08, 2021
Earth & The Environment
The Surprising Source of Life in the Arctic
AUG 08, 2021
The Surprising Source of Life in the Arctic
According to a new study published in Nature Communications last January, life in the waters of the Arctic Oce ...
AUG 10, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Researchers Confirm Exoplanet at Half the Mass of Venus
AUG 10, 2021
Researchers Confirm Exoplanet at Half the Mass of Venus
An international collaboration of researchers has identified a rocky exoplanet half the size of Venus, making it the low ...
AUG 11, 2021
Earth & The Environment
"Code Red:" Inside the IPCC's Newest Climate Report
AUG 11, 2021
"Code Red:" Inside the IPCC's Newest Climate Report
On Monday, August 9th, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first of their newest set of cl ...
AUG 17, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Physicists Transform Pure Energy into Matter and Antimatter
AUG 17, 2021
Physicists Transform Pure Energy into Matter and Antimatter
A new study published in Physical Review Letters presents evidence for the creation of matter and antimatter from energy ...
AUG 18, 2021
Space & Astronomy
The Size of Black Holes Depends on their Feeding Patterns
AUG 18, 2021
The Size of Black Holes Depends on their Feeding Patterns
The feeding patterns of black holes are directly correlated to their size. The corresponding study was published in  ...
SEP 22, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Commercial Fusion Energy Could be Within Reach, Thanks to the World's Most Powerful Magnet
SEP 22, 2021
Commercial Fusion Energy Could be Within Reach, Thanks to the World's Most Powerful Magnet
Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) announced this month that their new magnet might be the breakthrough needed to make fu ...
Loading Comments...