Solar cells approach the world of biology step by step. So much so that a scientific team has just improved the stability and performance of electrochemical cells using plant pigments, in particular thylakoid membranes and raspberry extract enriched in anthocyanins. This new path could lead to a new generation of totally clean and affordable photovoltaic systems.
The research was conducted by Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia, and included the design and development of new equipment to measure the effects on photoelectric currents generated by solar cells which can have environmental factors such as temperature or light intensity.
“To understand the processes that occur in solar cells, research is also needed to characterize efficiency and stability as a function of environmental factors.”, explains the development of these new instruments Suleyman Allakhverdiev, doctor of biology and member of the research team.
This new system can be used as a model to show the conditions necessary for the operation of solar cells with stability and efficiency. This equipment has been used for the study of solar cells in which photosynthetic devices are used as photosensitizers. With this it was possible to get valuable information about the stabilizing components that It allowed to experience up to four and six times the operating time without setback of this type of cells.
More precisely, thanks to the data provided by the system, we worked with two types of solar cells based on plant pigments. In both cases titanium dioxide was used as a conductor, while for sensitizers it has been tested with two options. The first was the thylakoid membrane and the second was raspberry extract enriched with anthocyanins.
The work to increase the efficiency of bio-based solar cells does not end there. The researchers pose further experimentation on the possibility of using chlorophyll molecules, which could absorb light in the near and far infrared, among other fields of study.
“The use of biological systems as photosensitizers is inexpensive and environmentally friendly”, they assure the research team, which suggests that the same principle on which they work could offer many alternatives to fossil fuels. “The creation of artificial photobiosynthesis systems could become a alternative that meets the growing needs for cheap, sustainable and energy-rich fuels“.
More information in Science Direct.