Solar energy, although possessing massive capabilities to power the planet, still poses problems in harnessing the sun's heat and light and converting this into usable energy.
Scientists have recently develped a new hybrid solar energy system that harnesses all of the sun's radiation by combining the use of photovoltaic cells with polymer films, which convert the light that often goes unused by solar cells into heat, which can then be converted into electricity.
This is a straightforward solution to a simple problem solar cells face: their inability to harness light energy and turn it into usable electricity, a problem faced by most commercial solar panels. These new solar panel systems claim to produce voltages that are five times higher than other hybrid systems.
The team of scientists did this by using a conductive polymer known as PEDOT. They then layered a "dye-sensitized solar cell" on top of the PEDOT film, which warmed up in response to the light. Underneath this, they slipped a thin pyroelectric film and thermoelectric device capable of converting the heat energy into electricity.
In totality, this process created a 20 percent higher rate of efficiency compared with commercial solar cells, enough to operate devices like LED lamps.
The study on the hybrid solar energy system was published in the peer-reviewed journal ACS Nano.