The most common alternative energy solutions available to users today are solar and wind power, but they both have massive drawbacks. Solar power, in particular, is hugely inefficient, as it takes as much as a whole year to collect the energy spent to produce a single solar cell. The newest research in the field is leaving behind the traditional materials for manufacturing these cells and replacing it with something cheaper, thinner, and more flexible.
The latest research is being undertaken by Dr. Ross Hatton, an associate professor at the University of Warwick. In his experiments, he intends to use semiconductors to convert light directly into electrical energy, which removes the need for emissions and fuel, not to mention mechanical parts. The lack of these components creates a more efficient system overall, leaving a lower carbon footprint on the planet.
Carbon-Based Cell Technology
The current level of research into the development of these cells sees them printed out at room temperature. There is no toxic material produced as a byproduct, and the film itself is made of a carbon-based material instead of silicon. Because of their high efficiency, the amount of energy expended to create one of these cells could be quickly made back in about a week. The level of productivity makes them far more efficient than the current commercially available solar cells.
The new technology represents a potential turning point in the availability of solar cell technology to all. With such an efficient solution for solar cells, the UK may be able to meet their goals of reducing their carbon emissions to zero within the next eleven years. Because these cells can be cheaply and easily printed and mounted, it gives individuals the ability to take their energy production and consumption into their own hands. Dr. Hatton mentions that the cells may be available for commercial use within a few years if all goes well in the testing stages.