Is it a solar cell or a rechargeable lithium-air battery? No…Actually it’s both! Though it seems quite shocking, but it’s true. It’s the worlds all in one solar battery.
Well, this exciting device is formed by Ohio State University. It is basically an air-breathing battery, which has built in solar cell for recharging. No doubt, this is actually a momentous discovery so far, because one of the major problems with the solar systems is that they need big batteries in order to stock up electricity. Also, these batteries are quite expensive and the other thing is, lots of electricity is lost during the traveling from one solar panels to external storage. On the other hand, this integrated solution is not just cheaper but efficient too. It has been observed by the researchers that, these solar batteries are 25% cheaper and 20% more efficient as compared to the traditional batteries.
Moreover, this novel solar battery comes with a nifty design. This solar battery has 3 electrodes. One is standard lithium metal anode, second is an oxygen/air electrode in the middle, and the third one is a photo-electrode (photovoltaic solar cell) fitted on the top. Furthermore, the electrolyte sandwich guarantees that electrons can move slickly between each electrode. At the time of charging, the solar cell is connected to the lithium electrode, and on discharging, the lithium electrode is connected to the oxygen.
In fact, the researchers told that, there are 2 very discrete chemical reactions which happen inside the solar battery. At the time of discharging of the battery, the lithium reacts with the oxygen in order to make lithium peroxide (Li2O2) and electricity, and as a result it breathes in. Alternatively, when the solar battery recharges, the solar cell makes electrons (via the photovoltaic effect) that change the lithium peroxide molecules back into lithium ions (Li+) and oxygen (O2) and eventually the battery breathes call off. There’s an iodide “shuttle” in the electrolyte, which actually helps in carrying electrons between the electrodes. The solar cell itself is quite simple and cheap dye-sensitized titanium dioxide panel, with iron oxide (rust) as the dye. Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) aren’t quite as efficient as silicon. They crest out at around 15% at the moment, though they make up for it by being cheaper and jagged.
This solar battery is developed by Yiying Wu along with his friends at Ohio State University. The design of the battery is original. Moreover, Wu stated that, the design will be certified to industrial partners, which would help in order to overthrow the cost of solar power.