Researchers at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg achieved an increase in the photovoltaic effect of ferroelectric crystals by a factor of 10 by creating crystalline layers of barium titanate, strontium titanate and calcium titanate, which they alternately placed on top of one another.
Their findings, which were published in the journal Science Advances, could significantly increase the efficiency of solar cells.
In their paper, the researchers explained that most solar cells are currently silicon-based, which means that their efficiency is limited. This is what prompted them to examine the properties of barium titanate, a mixed oxide made of barium and titanium.
“Ferroelectric means that the material has spatially separated positive and negative charges,” Akash Bhatnagar, co-author of the study, said in a media statement. “The charge separation leads to an asymmetric structure that enables electricity to be generated from light.”
Unlike silicon, ferroelectric crystals do not require a so-called pn junction to create the photovoltaic effect, in other words, no positively and negatively doped layers. This makes it much easier to produce solar panels.
Bhatnagar explained that pure barium titanate does not absorb much sunlight and consequently generates a comparatively low photocurrent. However, the latest research has shown that combining extremely thin layers of different materials significantly increases the solar energy yield.
“The important thing here is that a ferroelectric material is alternated with a paraelectric material. Although the latter does not have separated charges, it can become ferroelectric under certain conditions, for example at low temperatures or when its chemical structure is slightly modified,” the physicist said.
Bhatnagar’s research group discovered that the photovoltaic effect is greatly enhanced if the ferroelectric layer alternates not only with one but with two different paraelectric layers.
Thus, they embedded the barium titanate between strontium titanate and calcium titanate. This was achieved by vaporizing the crystals with a high-power laser and redepositing them on carrier substrates. This produced a material made of 500 layers that are about 200 nanometres thick.
When conducting the photoelectric measurements, the new material was irradiated with laser light. The result was unexpected: compared to pure barium titanate of a similar thickness, the current flow was up to 10 times stronger – and this even though the proportion of barium titanate as the main photoelectric component was reduced by almost two thirds.
“The interaction between the lattice layers appears to lead to a much higher permittivity – in other words, the electrons are able to flow much more easily due to the excitation by the light photons,” Bhatnagar said. The measurements also showed that this effect is very robust: it remained nearly constant over a six-month period.
The scientist also said further research must now be done to find out exactly what causes the outstanding photoelectric effect. Yet, he is confident that the potential demonstrated by the new concept can be used for practical applications in solar panels.
“The layer structure shows a higher yield in all temperature ranges than pure ferroelectrics. The crystals are also significantly more durable and do not require special packaging.”
That’s 1,000 PERCENT, not 1,000 times! Big difference. It’s 10x. Even that is an exaggeration.
Thanks Pace, we were definitely a bit optimistic here! The mix-up came with this from the study: “The photoresponse from SBC222 is 1000 times higher than that from BTO, although the tetragonality ratio in BTO is 1.02, while that in SBC222 is 1.01. Therefore, it can be conjectured that strain does not appear to have a dominant role in the observed enhanced effects,” but this observation does not reflect the overall improvement. Article has been corrected.
This is truly disappointing to hear PACE 1000x was sounding pretty good.. I was optimistic that we could resolve our energy needs with solar cells that produce more power than they receive from the sun. I think we need to seriously reconsider if we want to continue to follow the laws of physics or if they are too restrictive for our needs.
The laws of physics and economics are more than good enough to shut down the dirty and disease causing fossil fuel economy.
1000% is still a significance advance to put it mildly. Now let’s get it manufactured and bring it to market.
1000% is still 100% wrong, as anyone with a basic grasp of reality should immediately understand. The solar cells currently on the market are roughly 20% efficient. If you could increase their output 1000% they would be 200% efficient, at which point you wouldn’t need the sun any more since you’d have a perpetual motion machine.
Titanium is hugely energy rich to create also so needs to be factored in. Headline to the end of the comments is quite a ride.
This is time mashine and energy is being borrowed from the future, and it will drain the sun one million years faster than normally. Thankfully it will give us enough energy to build own sun later in the future, so we don’t have to worry. Another discovery breaking known physics. I already feel gravity is not working correctly. Outstanding clickbait.
Agree, but guess it’s 1000% compare to other Ferro solar panels. Guess they are like 2%? So basically they manage to produce something that already exist.
Why ain’t the article saying what effectiveness of conversation in % it manage to do?
Well it’s a mining page news not technology 🙂
You’re an idiot.
What it means is that if a 1sqm panel makes 1kw/h in direct sunlight, with their technology will make close to 1000kw/h, not… Send back heat to the effin sun, as your effed up brain might think.
David Charles Leithauser
As I understand this article, they are not saying that these new solar cells are 1000% more efficient than the current silicon solar cells. They are saying that they are 1000% more efficient than previous ferroelectric crystal solar cells, which apparently had a very low efficiency. I do not see anywhere in the article where they are actually telling us what the efficiency of the new solar cells is, which is disappointing.
Dr Evan Arkas
You are 100% right
This report is written by an accountant or a lawyer.
My initial estimations predicted a possible application between 10-12 years, and their trials will take longer.
Right on… They seem to this the laws of physics don’t apply to them… Only so much solar energy per foot hitting our little planet…
More crap to sell to people, That have no idea!
Some climate math going on here: best case is 1200W/m^^2 at noon in June so unless you’re under 10% efficiency to begin with there isn’t enough ceiling to make 1000% it simply is not there.
Although this looks exciting, it is clear that the performance improvement is relative to a BTO layer alone, not to current in production solar cells, so in that respect I think the articles title is misleading
What the hell? This is so misleading. Solar panels already approach 30% efficiency so 1000% more will make them defy the laws of physics. Article has been corrected? What about the headline? Still says 1000%..
So part of this article didn’t sit right with me, the 1000% increase discovered was compared to pure BT of similar dimensions, and as was mentioned earlier, BT has a very poor PE ability. So how about we compare the newly discovered lattice to regular silicon seeing as we are talking about the 2. You will find this 1000% increase is still much lower than what silicon provides. While the discovery is promising, the article is a little misleading and detracts from the research as the discovery applied to our current cells are still extremely inefficient, Ive read somewhere that the discovery allows BT to become 1% efficient, so I’d like an article to actually make that comparison with researched facts please. (Read the 1% in a hackable article)
Tell us what is the estimate impact on conversion efficiency. 10 Timea is great… today’s pv converys about 26% of sun’s energy in electricity. where will this discovery take the conversion ratio?
What is its price?
As someone with a PhD in the field – this article is just clickbait-rubbish. Okay it’s fair-enough to say their research describes some method of producing a greater current through effects they observe but to stretch this to mean their research could tangibly produce solar cells ‘1000% more efficient’ is shameful. Everything wrong with journalism these days.
Thanks for the comment John. From the abstract of the paper published in Science: “In this work, we present a strategy wherein sandwiching a ferroelectric BaTiO3 in between paraelectric SrTiO3 and CaTiO3 in a superlattice form results in a strong and tunable enhancement in photocurrent. Comparison with BaTiO3 of similar thickness shows the photocurrent in the superlattice is 10 times higher, despite a nearly two-thirds reduction in the volume of BaTiO”
It’s remarkable. 10 times the output of silicon based solar cells.
Owen Harald Morgan
Current solar panels harvest around 20% of the energy that hits them. How can you increase that by 1000%?
If they harvested 100%, the increase would be 400%.
You can’t argue with basic math.
It’s still great news if there is a significant increase, but such basic errors kind of makes you doubt the whole article.
Thanks for the comment Owen. From the abstract of the paper published in Science: “In this work, we present a strategy wherein sandwiching a ferroelectric BaTiO3 in between paraelectric SrTiO3 and CaTiO3 in a superlattice form results in a strong and tunable enhancement in photocurrent. Comparison with BaTiO3 of similar thickness shows the photocurrent in the superlattice is 10 times higher, despite a nearly two-thirds reduction in the volume of BaTiO”
10x is significant enough. Let us patiently wait for more research.
If this new material collects 10x more energy than a silicon cell which is say 20% efficient, then this new material should collect 100% of the available energy with half of its capacity to spare. This may be an advantage in low light conditions. Yes/no?
Michael R Berger
So best in class solar cells are about 25% efficient… this article states a 1000%, so a 10x. Meaning 2.5 times the energy available in sunlight. That’s quite a trick.
Laws of physics say you can’t get some thing from nothing. You can improve the efficiency of solar panels but the extent to which you’re claiming is close to perpetual motion. What effect will this have on batterys and change controlers for those of us in off-grid situations? That’s if this is working the way you claim.
What is the price
What is the cost there of
It’s a pity the article does not say what the total efficiency is. 1000% of 0.5% is 50%, which seems unlikely, unless you are only comparing it with the exact spectrum that is absorbed.
Should be 5%.
for small island states to go totally green is not easy as we do not have eniugh space for solar panels…if solar panels efficiency can increase by 1000%….this wilk helo tremendously…currently 1kwp requires 4.8m2 of space…if solar celks can improve by 1000% then space requirements drops to 0.24m2….thats incredible
As others have said, article headline is impossible and misleading. Purposeful clickbait nonsense. I’ll be blocking mining.fom from my Google news feed then …
Shameful reporting! The headline clearly tries to mislead readers that there has been a 10x jump in power produced from solar – most will understandably assume it is from current available panels!
My estimate says solar cells can’t have 3-400% more than current cells, which are 22% efficient. 1000% means getting twice energy than sunray’s power.
A factor 10 does not correspond to a 1000% increase. If you want a 1000% increase of something, you have to multiply it by 11, not 10. Like a factor 2 which gives a 100% increase.
I can’t believe this headline made it to my Google recommendations. HEY GUYS, SOLAR CELLS TODAY ARE AT 20% EFFICIENCY AT LEAST. IF YOU MULTIPLY THAT BY 10, YOU GET 200% EFFICIENCY, AND THAT IS OBVIOUSLY IMPOSSIBLE.
” the current flow was up to 10 times stronger ” I believe the emphasis is in terms of output current,- comparatively. solar conversion efficiency not specified ;Possibly at optimum setting.
M. Ilyas Cheema
Nice to see a good site & for Mining & Minerals especially article on Solar Cells . Silicon is replacing other material in photovoltaic cells for increasing efficiency & productivity.Thanks for this information
Glynn d Jones
Referring to the original paper the output difference is 10 to the power 3 i.e. 1000 which is what is quoted in the headline
Valentina Ruiz Leotaud a multimedia and multi-platform journalist posted (September 23, 202) the summary of ” Recent discovery may give solar cells 1,000% more power ” published in the journal Science Advances (Vol., Issue, and Year were not specified ! ) by Akash Bhatnagar et al, researchers at Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg (MLU). Earlier in July 20, 2021 same work titled” Solar cells: Layer of three crystals produces a thousand times more power “ by Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg !The results of 1000% efficiency should be either corrected otherwise it is too good to be true. Couldn’t find the paper!
Valentina Ruiz Leotaud
Dear Sat’tar, the paper is linked in the third paragraph https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abe4206