Solar Cells Out of Common Materials? IBM Makes It Happen
A research team from IBM recently announced, in the journal Advanced Materials, that they had succeeded in producing a solar cell from materials that are in 'abundant' supply, such as copper, sulfur, tin, and zinc. Even at this early prototype stage, this new cell is able to convert 9.6 percent of solar energy into electrical energy. Conventional solar cells can easily beat that conversion rate, but they require rarer materials such as cadmium and tellurium. The scarcity of those materials limits the availability of solar cells for widespread use. The materials used by the researchers at IBM, on the other hand, are extremely common, and as a result, can be used to mass produce solar cells. The research team expects that this solar cell will be a cost-effective way to produce energy, if the technique can be perfected to the point where at least twelve percent of the absorbed solar energy can be converted into electrical energy.