Researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, have developed a new generation of solar cell material that is also capable of emitting light. The newly discovered material is made of Perovskite, a calcium titanium oxide based mineral.
The discovery, came in surprise, when NTU physicist Prof. Sum Tze Chien, asked his postdoctoral researcher to shine a laser on the new hybrid Perovskite solar cell material they are developing. The new cell glowed brightly when the laser beam was shone on it.
This is a significant finding as most solar cell materials are good at absorbing light but are generally not expected to generate light. In fact, this highly luminescent new Perovskite material is also very suitable for the making of lasers.
According to Prof. Sum, the new material is high quality and durable under light exposure, it can capture light particles and convert them to electricity, or vice versa. By tuning the composition of the material, it can emit a wide range of colours, which is suitable for making light emitting device, such as flat screen displays.
The new material holds promise in light decorations or displays for the facades of shopping malls and offices. Such a versatile yet low-cost (5 times cheaper than current Silicon-based solar cells) material would be a boon for green buildings. More significantly, the ability of this material to lase, has implications for on-chip electronic devices that source, detect and control light.