The world's first 'solar battery' that runs on light and air has been developed by scientists.
The hybrid device created at the Ohio State University is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.
The invention also solves a longstanding problem in solar energy efficiency, by eliminating the loss of electricity that normally occurs when electrons have to travel between a solar cell and an external battery. Typically, only 80 percent of electrons emerging from a solar cell make it into a battery. With this new design, light could be converted to electrons inside the battery, so nearly 100 percent of the electrons are saved.
The university would license the solar battery to industry, where Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State, said it would help tame the costs of renewable energy. The researchers believe that the device could bring down the costs by 25 percent.
The research is published in the journal Nature Communications.