From their inception, solar systems have pushed the boundaries of the clean energy world. Regarded as the highest form of power in its pure state, solar energy is incredibly versatile, capable of being converted into several different channels for everyday use. Though it initially started as an alternative source of electric power, it’s since evolved to fulfill our heating, cooling, transportation, water heating, cooking, industrial processing, and fuel production needs.
One of the biggest challenges scientists have faced throughout its use is the limited availability of solar energy – you can only harness sunlight effectively during the daytime, weather permitting. However, there have been some innovative workarounds, like batteries, pumped hydro, thermal energy storage, compressed air, and more. But, even with such rapid progress, researchers continue to strive for increasingly more innovative uses and implementations. Current goals center around increasing the overall efficiency of conversion, from both an energy and economic perspective. A group of ambitious semiconductor researchers in France has already made significant strides here, formulating a resources boron nitride separation layer to replace the original sapphire substrate material that composed solar cells.
This switchout could mean a more effective photovoltaic system, potentially working to capture a broader spectrum of light. These monolayers of boron nitride are carefully placed on two-inch sapphire wafers with a glass backing. The unique layering also means longer wavelengths will be filtered out, optimizing the collection of short wavelengths. And what’s more, the substitution in material does not come at the expense of durability – as various field experiments indicate the new panels aren’t any more susceptible to breakage or cracking than conventional models. The revised model can also withstand up to 1300 degrees Celcius in temperature. Scientists remain hopeful that mass production under this method is very much within the realm of possibility.
All in all, these findings suggest considerable advancements in the manufacturing of solar cells in bulk, potentially meaning lower costs for commercial solar use. This fact alone represents a serious incentivization for more companies to implement solar systems, which could mean popularized transition over to solar on the whole. While a lot of the aforementioned goals are still ongoing, they remain attainable and within reach.
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