Imagine a solar panel that generates energy not just from the sun, but also from the rain that hits it.
Scientists have combined an electron-enriched graphene electrode with a regular solar cell in order to create just that.
Researchers say the all-weather solar cells are "promising in solving the energy crisis". The study explains:
The new solar cell can be excited by incident light on sunny days and raindrops on rainy days, yielding an optimal solar-to-electric conversion efficiency of 6.53 per cent under AM 1.5 irradiation and current over microamps as well as a voltage of hundreds of microvolts by simulated raindrops. The formation of π-electron|cation electrical double-layer pseudocapacitors at graphene/raindrop interface is contributable to current and voltage outputs at switchable charging–discharging process. The new concept can guide the design of advanced all-weather solar cells.
Because raindrops contain salts that split into positive and negative ions, graphene sheets can be used to bind the positive ions, creating a pseudocapacitor which generates electricity thorough simple chemical reaction.
The project is still very much in the early stages, but the researchers are excited by the progress.