Invented by University of Chicago scientists, a new kind of solar cell could spur useful technology.
As solar technology has improved, with greater efficiencies and lower costs, more and more Americans are using it to power their homes. In fact, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), there is an estimated 97.2 gigawatts (GW) of solar power installed in the United States. For an idea of how much this is, it is roughly the energy needed to power 18 million average homes and makes up over 3% of U.S. electricity.
But what about smaller-scale applications? There, solar power could have important benefits unrelated to the environmental advantages provided by large-scale solar power.
Holes help make sponges and English muffins useful (and, in the case of the latter, delicious). Without holes, they wouldn’t be flexible enough to bend into small crevices, or to sop up the perfect amount of jam and butter.
In a new study, University of Chicago scientists find that holes can also improve technology, including medical devices. Published in Nature Materials, the paper describes an entirely new way to make a solar cell: by etching holes in the top layer to make it porous.
The innovation could form the basis for a less-invasive pacemaker, or similar medical devices. It could be paired with a small light source to reduce the size of the bulky batteries that are currently implanted along with today’s pacemakers.
“We hope this opens many possibilities for further improvements in this field,” said Aleksander Prominski, the first author on the paper.
Prominski is a member of the lab of University of …….