Silicon still rules in solar cells, but Harvard has now ranked 2.3 million possible replacements

Cool, very cool.


Harvard gave a big gift to the solar community today: a database of 2.3 million materials that highlights those with the most potential to be used in solar cells. All of the materials are carbon based, which researchers believe could someday replace silicon cells due to its low cost and flexibility.

The database includes more than 35,000 materials that are at least 10 percent efficient at converting solar energy into electricity. The best are 11.13 percent efficient, which is in line with the current record for organic materials. But all of them degrade to 4 to 5 percent when actually incorporated into a solar cell. Most silicon solar cells hit at least 15 percent.

Much more research will need to be done before organics are in line with silicon. Scientists will need to increase their efficiency and prevent them from degrading when they come in contact with the environment, ideally…

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