Solar modules, should they come with more abundance of colors, would provide additional possibilities on the design of public spaces, residences, and office buildings. Scientists have now developed solar panels with low blue, green, and purple tones that are sitting at a conversion efficiency of roughly 21.5%, which is similar to that of existing solar panels.
Solar panels, due to their function of absorbing sunlight and converting it into electricity, are mostly configured with dark colored solar cells, while most silicon solar cells in the market are blue since silicon is able to absorb most color of visible light, thus reflecting back blue light.
Scientists had attempted to reflect partial segment of light by taking inspirations from the scales of butterfly wings and structural color of bubbles, though such type of high-cost solar panels would usually end up with colors. A study that was published on ACS Nano points out that a science team has managed to develop a high-efficiency and colorful cell by utilizing simple and exceedingly low cost materials.
The research team applied a thin layer of photonic glass, which is formed with a layer of thin and disorderly dielectric micro zinc sulfide spheres, on the surface of the solar cell. Although most sunlight is able to pass through the photonic glass, specific colors can be reflected according to the size of the spheres, and the team had eventually produced solar panels with blue, green, and purple shades.
Photonic glass can be easily deposited onto the initial silicon solar cell, with essentially no changes to conversion efficiency under a slight reduction from 22.6% to 21.5%. The team also discovered that photonic glass solar panels can retain their color and performance under a standard endurance test, as well as expand in production scale. The team, at the same time, attempted to adjust the colors to facilitate possibilities in richer colors and enlarging panel sizes.
(Cover photo source: ACS Nano)