rockBelieve it or not, but playing pop-rock greatly improve the efficiency of solar cells, according to a new study published by researchers at Queen Mary, University of London and Imperial College of London…

High frequencies and tone found in this type of music indeed cause vibrations which have the particularity to increase energy production of solar cells… These contain a network ‘nanotubes’, leading to a 40% increase of the efficiency of solar cells!

This study could have significant implications in improving the production of energy from sunlight, especially in the development of new solar cells printed at low cost.

The researchers first grown billions of tiny peaks (nanotubes) zinc oxide, before covering an active polymer, forming the final device capable of converting sunlight into electricity. Using the special properties of zinc oxide material, the team was able to show that the noise levels as low as 75 decibels – equivalent to a typical road noise or a desktop printer – could significantly improve the performance of solar cells .

“After the study of systems for converting vibrations into electricity, this is an exciting development which shows a similar set of physical properties can also improve the performance of photovoltaic,” said Dr. Steve Dunn, Lecturer in nanoscale materials attached to the University of Queen Mary.

Scientists had already shown that the exertion of pressure or stress on the zinc oxide materials could cause output voltages, known as the piezoelectric effect. However, the effects of these pressures on the mechanical efficiency of solar cells were not paying attention.

“We thought that the sound waves, which produce random fluctuations would cancel (…) and so we do not expect to see a significant overall effect on the voltage generated at the output,” said James Durrant, Professor of photochemistry at Imperial College London, who co-led the study.

“The key for us remains that not only random noise fluctuations do not vanish, but in addition, certain frequencies of sound seem to really amplify the electric field of the solar cell – so that the increase of the induced voltage remains really important in light of the lack of sound energy that we put into it.”

“We tried to play music instead of flat and dull sounds. This allowed us to explore the effect of different stamps. The biggest difference we found was that when we played pop music rather that classic, we realized that our solar cells ‘acoustic’ responded better to sounds sharper present in pop music,” he has said.

The discovery could also be used to power devices that are exposed to acoustic vibrations, such as air conditioning units or in the means of transport (car, truck, train …)

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