Batteries included: A solar cell that stores its own power

Is it a solar cell? Or a rechargeable battery? Actually, the patent-pending device invented at The Ohio State University is both: the world’s first solar battery.

In the October 3, 2014 issue of the journal Nature Communications, the researchers report that they’ve succeeded in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device.

Key to the innovation is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.

The university will license the solar battery to industry, where Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State, says it will help tame the costs of renewable energy.

“The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy,” Wu said. “We’ve integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost.”
He and his students believe that their device brings down costs by 25 percent.

The invention also solves a longstanding problem in solar energy efficiency, by eliminating the loss of electricity that normally occurs when electrons have to travel between a solar cell and an external battery. Typically, only 80 percent of electrons emerging from a solar cell make it into a battery.
With this new design, light is converted to electrons inside the battery, so nearly 100 percent of the electrons are saved.


3 thoughts on “Batteries included: A solar cell that stores its own power

  1. Sometimes people don’t understand the difference between knowledge and ability to learn. On an earlier post I laid out the reasoning I used to determine the significance of “91 steps”. It took a lot longer to read through the explanation than it actually took to figure it out in my head.

    I saw some anti-Common Core B.S. where they were making fun of a “supplemental” 3rd grade math problem because they took the long way* to figure it out. What a bunch of morons! In order to teach the ability to figure something out you have to START (3rd grade) with simple problems solved by orderly logic so when you get to more complicated problems (research) you have the ability to solve them.

    If we don’t teach the upcoming generations how to solve new ideas, we will never advance as a civilization. This post about the solar battery reminded me of the importance of learning to learn. Those backward thinking people need to learn how much better everything is today compared to the “good ole days”.

    On one hand I find it humorous the Teabaggers use something over two hundred years old to call themselves, but am amazed that most of them don’t have a clue what the Boston Tea Party involved. I occasionally read the Toledo Tea Party website. Besides all the misinformation they spew about Common Core, I was astounded when I read about their wish that only landowners should vote. I’m betting that most of them either own very little or no property. Don’t mean to be a snob, but ignorant people who pretend to be more intelligent than they are annoy me.

    * The steps to finding the solution they used in the Common Core example are EXACTLY how I do math and I’m betting the critics never received any math awards. Sheesh! Now that I’m “older”, I feel I have a right to be impatient with stupid people.

    1. That ‘landowners’ reference is clearly racial as a large majority of people of color rent.

      Re the math reference, many people ridicule math and math teaching because they themselves are unsure of the subject and/ or did poorly in the subject. Not surprisingly, those regressive tea bangers are fear-filled individuals who unite in common fear.

      Dissing Common Core would be like me dissing astrophysics. The baggers-ever looking in the rear view mirror- believe that what they learned (or didn’t) 30, 40, 50 years ago is sufficient for kids who will live into the 22nd century.

      They are stuck, angry and fearful. Poor souls.

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