Peanut butter and chocolate. Pam and Jim from The Office. Christmas and presents. We've seen many great combinations throughout history, and we now have one more to add to the list. Researchers at The Ohio State University have invented the world's first solar battery.

The researchers report that they have been able to combine a battery and a solar cell into one device. Their findings were published in the Oct. 3, 2014 issue of the journal Nature Communications.

The battery includes a mesh solar panel that allows air to enter. Then, a special process takes place where electrons are transferred between the solar panel and the battery's electrode. The battery uses light and oxygen to charge.


So why is this such a big deal? This new solar battery could make it more affordable for homeowners and businesses to use solar energy rather than less sustainable sources of power. Yiying Wu, a chemistry and biochemistry professor at Ohio State and one of the creators of the solar battery, said that the device could bring down costs by 25 percent. If solar power becomes less expensive to implement, this could make a lot of inroads for more widespread use 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 in a statement. "We've integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost." 

Solar panels currently get energy from the sun and convert it into electricity, energy which usually goes back into the grid and is exchanged for conventional forms of electricity, The Columbus Dispatch reported. This solar cell that stores its own power could help people live "off the grid" with energy from the solar panel directly powering their homes, businesses, cars or anything else that uses energy.

This new solar battery also solves some problems with solar energy efficiency. Normally, 80 percent of electrons from a solar cell make it to the battery, but with the conversion of light into electrons taking place inside the battery, nearly all of the electrons are saved. Wu and his team believe the solar battery will last as long as comparable rechargable batteries already in the market.

Wu and doctoral student Xiaodi Ren previously developed an air-powered battery that discharges potassium with oxygen called the KAir Battery. The device won $100,000 in 2014 from the U.S. Department of Energy, which also funded the research on the solar battery.

The patent on the solar battery is currently pending. The university intends to license the battery to industry.

Ah, solar power and batteries. What a great pair.

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