By Rishna Sengupta, Associated PressScientists are working on a new generation of solar panels that are more efficient and cost-effective, but they’re struggling to come up with the right names for the new materials and their applications.
One of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to describe the different kinds of solar cells.
A solar cell is a piece of metal or glass with a cell that is made of a layer of light-absorbing material.
A typical solar cell absorbs some of the sun’s energy, then converts it into electrical energy.
But the solar cells that are the standard today are also designed to absorb a certain amount of energy from the sun, too.
For example, some solar cells can absorb up to 70 percent of the energy that comes from the Sun, while others can absorb less than 10 percent of that energy.
A new generation is being developed to make solar cells more efficient, with different materials that absorb energy in different ways.
These new materials can be called “supercapacitors” or “cellulosic solar cells,” or simply “cello solar cells.”
They’re much smaller, lighter and lighter-weight than today’s solar cells, which make up the bulk of solar energy today.
A cello solar cell, made of carbon nanotubes and silicon.
(Image credit: Suntech Corp.)
“The materials themselves are not really exciting, they are a very complex set of materials, they’re really complicated to get to the right properties,” said Steven W. Kravitz, professor of materials science and engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.
“You need to know how to understand these materials and how to make them.
But there’s a whole set of questions that you have to answer for the material.”
To create a solar cell that has better efficiency, researchers are working to understand how the different materials in the cell interact with each other.
Researchers are also trying to develop better materials to make the solar cell lighter, which is a challenge because it requires more energy to make.
“In the past, we’ve done experiments that you could use to understand the reaction of the different elements,” said Kraviz.
“But if you have an experiment that has a very simple reaction of one element, and you have a complex reaction of another element, you have very little information about how to do it.
So, you need to make more complicated experiments.”
Researchers are trying to figure out the different types of solar cell.
A new generation was developed using different materials.
(Credit: SunTech Corp.)
Kravitz said the biggest challenge is figuring up the right name for the materials.
“You can say it’s a supercapacitor, but it’s not necessarily a supercell, it’s just a very inefficient one,” he said.
“It’s not a cell, it has to be a capacitor, and it has a battery.
You don’t want to just use the word supercap, you don’t even want to call it a cell.”
Researchers have also struggled to come to terms with the various properties of the various materials, like how to differentiate between different kinds.
For instance, how does a supercapsule differ from a superconductor, which has a conductor inside it?
Or how does the material’s composition affect how it behaves?
Kraviz said he hopes to have a better understanding of the properties of solar panel material by 2020, but he said it’s likely that solar panel makers will still need to develop more advanced materials.
To get the best results, researchers want to figure the best materials to use for different applications.
In addition to supercapsules and supercondoms, they want to develop materials that are lighter and have better properties, like supercapas, which have better electrical and mechanical properties than traditional supercapacs and supercells.
“We need to do a better job of explaining the properties that are involved, and that is a huge challenge,” Kravz said.
He said he is hopeful that some of these new materials will be ready to market by 2025.