How mixing two types of solar panels makes them better and tougher

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Solar power is great for the environment, but there’s a limit to how much energy traditional solar cells can produce.

That’s why scientists are always looking for ways to make them better. One exciting new option is using a material called “perovskite” in solar cells.

However, perovskite has its own problems: it can get damaged really easily, especially if it’s partly in the shade.

But guess what?

Researchers have come up with an exciting solution. They decided to pair up traditional solar cells, which are made of silicon, with the newer perovskite cells.

The result? A “tandem” solar cell that works better and lasts longer than either type would on its own!

Barry Rand, the leader of the research team from Princeton University and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), explained that these tandem solar cells can convert more sunlight into electricity than just silicon or just perovskite.

And the even better news is that the sturdy silicon solar cells help protect the weaker perovskite cells.

To check how well this combination works, the scientists did some experiments. They set up three groups of solar cells: one with just silicon cells, one with just perovskite, and one with both types connected together.

Then, they blocked some of the sunlight from reaching one cell in each group to see what would happen.

Normally, blocking sunlight from a perovskite cell would be really bad. The other cells would try to pass their electrical charge through the blocked cell, and that could ruin it.

But when they tried this with the tandem cells, the silicon helped protect the perovskite, making the whole system much more reliable.

Stefaan De Wolf, another researcher on the team, explained that usually, the weakest part of a system determines how strong the whole thing is. But in this case, the stronger silicon actually helped protect the weaker perovskite.

So, what does all this mean for the future of solar power? First, it could make perovskite cells a lot more practical to use.

Since silicon solar cells are already widely produced, perovskite cells could just be added to them instead of building a whole new manufacturing process. This could speed up how quickly we can start using this new technology.

However, the team mentioned there are still challenges to overcome. For example, these tandem cells are still not great at handling heat. But they are optimistic. If they can figure out how to make the cells more stable, it could mean even better solar technology down the line.

Rand summed it up well, saying that if they can tackle these challenges, tandem solar cells could make an already successful technology even better.

He believes that all researchers in the field should focus on making these tandem cells the future of solar power.

So, the next time you see a solar panel, it might just be a super-charged, tandem version that’s better for the Earth and better at generating power!

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