A team of engineers at Washington University in St. Louis has found what they believe is a more stable, less toxic semiconductor for solar applications, using a novel double mineral discovered through data analytics and quantum-mechanical calculations.
Kevin Moeller, PhD, professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, is working to find ways to use clean energy in clean chemistry. “We can make the oxidation reactions used in the synthesis of organic molecules cleaner by hitching photovoltaics to electrochemistry,” Moeller says. It’s not a new idea, but one Moeller and his colleagues hope catches on.
Plants are less efficient at capturing the energy in sunlight than solar cells, mostly because they have to drag along evolutionary baggage. But scientists are already thinking of creative ways to fix the inefficiencies.