Technology Caffeine Cranks Up Solar Cells

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  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    Electronics must perform and endure for 1,000 hours at 85 °C to pass a standard accelerated lifetime test. Coffee is best served at 85 °C—a fact that’s built right into the name of the fast-growing 85°C Bakery Café chain. Just another meaningless coincidence? Not for the photovoltaics researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles. For them, 85 degrees was a clue hiding in plain sight.

    UCLA professor Yang Yang’s lab chock-full of coffee drinkers spent several years searching for a stability-enhancing additive to turn famously unstable perovskite PV cells into a useful product. Then, on a lark, Yang's graduate student Rui Wang suggested they try adding caffeine to the mix. To the team's surprise, caffeine produced longer lasting and more powerful solar cells.

    The work, completed with collaborators at Hong Kong-based PV firm Solargiga Energy Holdings and two Chinese universities, appears today in energy research journal Joule.

    Yang sipped his second (and final) cup of java earlier this week as he explained to IEEE Spectrum how caffeine helps perovskite solar cells. While caffeine excites the nerves of coffee drinkers—making Yang’s hands shake if he overindulges—it actually chills out perovskites.

    Caffeine's calming effect starts during the creation of perovskite crystals. “Without caffeine, the crystallization process will just take 2 seconds, but with caffeine it will take 1 to 2 minutes,” says Yang. The more deliberate growth process yields a perovskite material with larger grains of defect-free crystal. They are more stable mechanically and better at moving the charges created from incoming photons.

    Read more here. (Spectrum IEEE)
     

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