Scientists have discovered that a certain type of mineral has the right properties to extract energy from multiple sources at the same time – turning solar, heat, and kinetic energy into electricity.
The mineral is a type of perovskite – a family of minerals with a specific crystal structure – and this is the first time researchers have identified one that can convert energy from all three sources at room temperature.
Since the first perovskite solar cell was invented back in 2009, these minerals have been positioned as the ‘next big thing’ in renewable energy technology.
Perovskite solar cells have proven to be cheaper and more efficient than traditional silicon solar cells, and their efficiency levels have increased from 3.8 percent in 2009 to 22.1 percent in 2016, making them the fastest-advancing solar technology to date.
But solar energy has one big problem: what happens when there isn’t a lot of sunlight – or none at all, in the case of devices that are used mainly indoors?
A team from the University of Oulu in Finland has been messing around with different types of perovskite minerals to see if any of them could harness energy from multiple sources, and they’ve identified the perfect candidate – KBNNO (or Ba, Ni co-modified KNbO3 nanocrystals).
While the mineral will never be efficient enough to power something as large your home the way perovskite solar cells could, the researchers say it could be used in electronic devices like phones and laptops, and the various ‘smart’ gadgets that will soon be filling our homes and city streets. (Source)