Scientists Are Creating Solar Panels That Can Be Sprayed on Homes, Bridges, and Skyscrapers
By Elias Marat
A research team at the University of Central Florida has successfully used artificial intelligence (AI) to develop a special liquid called “perovskite” which they hope can eventually be used to create spray-on solar cells.
The new development, dubbed “perovskite solar cells” (PSCs), is being hailed as a potential game-changer in terms of how consumers use energy. In a press statement, the university wrote:
Imagine being able to spray or paint bridges, houses and skyscrapers with the material, which would then capture light, turn it into energy and feed it into the electrical grid. Until now, the solar cell industry has relied on silicon because of its efficiency. But that’s old technology with limits.
Scientists devised PSCs over a decade ago. However, up to this point recipes for perovskites were far too expensive and energy-intensive.
Relying on machine learning algorithms, the research team fed perovskite data sourced from 2,000 peer-reviewed publications into a system that was able to determine which recipes would work best. The team hopes now that the technique can help pave the way to an inexpensive and reliable formula for the solar cells. However, further research is needed.
The team’s work has shown so much promise that their research was the cover story in last week’s issue of Advanced Energy Materials journal.
In a statement, lead author Jayan Thomas said:
Our results demonstrate that machine learning tools can be used for crafting perovskite materials and investigating the physics behind developing highly efficient PSCs.
This can be a guide to design new materials as evidenced by our experimental demonstration.
While more research is needed, the team believes that spray-on solar cells could be attained within our lifetime. Thomas and his graduate student Jinxin Li, the first author of the paper, wrote:
This is a promising finding because we use data from real experiments to predict and obtain a similar trend from the theoretical calculation, which is new for PSCs. We also predicted the best recipe to make PSC with different bandgap perovskites.
Perovskites have been a hot research topic for the past 10 years, but we think we really have something here that can move us forward.