Selenium `makes efficient solar cells`

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 12:28

Washington: For long, scientists have been looking for light-catching substances that could be added to photovoltaic materials to convert more of sun`s energy into
carbon-free electricity.

Now, a new research, published in the `Applied Physics Letters` journal, has described how solar power could potentially be harvested by using oxide materials that contain
the element `selenium`.

A team at California University has embedded selenium in zinc oxide, a relatively inexpensive material that could be promising for solar power conversion if it could actually make more efficient use of the sun`s energy. The scientists found that even a relatively small amount of selenium, just 9 per cent of the mostly zinc-oxide base, dramatically boosted the material`s efficiency in absorbing light.

"Researchers are exploring ways to make solar cells both less expensive and more efficient; this result potentially addresses both of those needs," said lead author
Marie Mayer of University of California.

According to Mayer, photoelectrochemical water splitting, using energy from the sun to cleave water into hydrogen and oxygen gases, could potentially be the most exciting future application for her work.
Harnessing this reaction is key to the eventual production of zero-emission hydrogen powered vehicles, which hypothetically will run only on water and sunlight. Like most
researchers, Mayer isn`t predicting hydrogen cars on the roads in any meaningful numbers soon.

Still, the great thing about solar power, she says, is that "if you can dream it, someone is trying to research it".

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, August 4, 2010 - 12:28

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