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If cloudy days threatening rain have posed one of the biggest challenges for solar energy harvesting technology so far, a Chinese science team might have put an end to the problem. To do this, he developed a new hybrid solar cell that captures not only the energy of the sun, but also that of raindrops.

From the laboratory jump to the commercial phase, the innovation signed by the Chinese University of Soochow This would be a significant step forward in bringing greater stability to the production of electricity through solar panels. For this, the first step was to give a new thought to triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG), which allow, precisely, to transform the mechanical energy of raindrops into electricity.

Although he has already tried to integrate TENGs and solar cells, the truth is that the proposal that comes from the Asian giant surpasses any previous approach. And it is that, if until now the systems created to harness the energy of the sun and the rain were characterized by an extremely complicated production process and a very bulky end product, that of this group changes paradigm.

The hybrid cell designed by these experts stands out for its simplicity and lightness. So much so that, according to one of the scientists who participated in the project, Zhen Wen, explains Phys.org, one of your next achievements could be integration of the device into clothing. “My wish is to make clothes capable of producing electricity from the sun and rain, for use in portable electronic devices.», Specifies the expert.

Desire is also a continuous attempt. So while they are already making progress in designing a system in fiber form, the hybrid they have created differs considerably from the others, especially in one aspect. The silicon solar cell used is integrated into the TENGs via a mutual electrode located in the middle of the device, which conducts energy from the nanogenerator to the cell. The advantages of choice are numerous, as detailed in an article published in ACS Nano. The reduction in reflections, the better protection of the solar cell, especially against water, and the improvement in electricity production compared to previous attempts are some of the strengths of this idea. However, the simplicity of its design and its lightness stand out.

Despite the best in solar technology and TENGs, this potentially revolutionary technology still has aspects to fine-tune. Among them, as the team points out, the fact that it is not possible to take advantage of both possibilities at the same time. “If it was raining and the weather was nice at the same time, we would have to give up one of the functions of the hybrid generator”experts admit. Due to the rarity of these phenomena, this risk does not obscure the leap forward that this project can entail.