Polish company develops working prototype of a solar cell in which silicon is replaced by perovskites, substances that perfectly absorb light and are said to be the future of solar energy. Edward Baran reports.
Could this be the future for low-cost solar power? Unlike the silicon-based solar cells that currently make up most of the market, perovskites are flexible, easily made in the lab and form thin films. Various research centres are competing to make the technology stable enough for mass production. This Polish team has developed a working prototype of a cell phone charger using the material. (SOUNDBITE) (English) KONRAD WOJTKOWSKI, SAULE TECHNOLOGIES, SAYING: "It's very cost effective so producing films of this material is extremely cheap and it's flexible so it can be used in portable electronics. This is an example of prototype device. It's basically a battery and it can be used for charging our mobile phones, laptops or tablets." The team plans further work on the prototype, to make it more durable and withstand everyday use. If they succeed, the potential uses could be expanded to a wide range of devices, including tablets and laptops. The next step in producing perovskite solar cells is expanding their surface to allow application on any large area -- such as home windows and roofs. This would be possible thanks to the flexibility of perovskite layers. However it's used, these researchers say it is the best hope for harnessing the sun's power without costing the earth.