The new solar panel is meant for all weather conditions and can be triggered by both rain and the sun.
Chinese researchers have created an innovative solar panel technology that can turn raindrops into electricity.
This solar panel actually serves a dual purpose and is designed to generate electricity from both sunlight and rain. Thus, it solves a major problem of producing electric power on a dark, gloomy day when sunlight is not there.
“All weather solar cells are promising in solving the energy crises. The new solar cell can be excited by incident light on sunny days and raindrops on rainydays…The new concept can guide the design of advanced all-weather solar cells.” Authors wrote in the study.
Traditional solar panels convert solar energy into electricity by complex processes. They utilize photovoltaic cells that are mostly made of silicon to absorb sunlight when it strikes the panel. Then, they transfer the energy to lose electrons and generate a flow of electricity. But with these solar panels electric generation is either not at all or at least relatively low in rainy days.
To address the issue, researchers from Ocean University of China and Yunnan Normal University have created a new solar panel by integrating dye-sensitized solar cells combined with a thin layer of graphene. When raindrops hit the graphene coated solar cells, the salt in the water separates into ions, thereby create energy.
But the new solar panel is not as efficient as the top solar panels available at the moment. The top solar panels can convert up to 22.5% of sunlight into electricity while all weather solar panels have a conversion rate of just 6.5%. Still they can be helpful in gloomy days when conventional solar panels produce 10 to 25% less electricity.
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Study authors say. “With an aim of markedly elevating electricity creation, all-weather solar panels are promising to growing energy demands.”