Inventions have always made our planet a better place to live and made our lives easier. But now it is time to turn our attention to how invention can also preserve the planet.
It is not news that we are facing a global challenge: how to continue to maintain our current lifestyle (or even advance it) and also maintain (or even advance) the planet we need to live on?
The answer will begin with our attitude toward renewable energy sources but will also require innovation – one that might just surprise you.
You might’ve heard of photovoltaic (PV) films that can be placed over windows to turn them into semiconductors. This technology is made possible by depositing thin layers of a light-harvesting material on a substrate, which can be glass, metal or plastic.
Well now we have a new PV model. It is made with nanostructured or carbon-based materials such as dye, perovskite (a family of man-made crystals), or organic-based solar cells. Using a very thin layer of material perovskite-based PV cells are not only less expensive than PV film, but also much more easily processed.
A light-absorbing pigment, perovskite can be formulated as an ink, which can then be printed at any possible object. Yes, that newspaper you are reading, the paint on your house or car, even the table your laptop is sitting on can all be made into semiconductors. Perovskite can also be formed into threads and woven into fabrics and bags. Just imagine wearing solar powered shirts and shorts next time you go to the beach.
In less than a decade, perovskite has outperformed all the existing thin film PV technology and can now compete head-to-head with mature silicon technology in terms of solar-to-electric efficiency – and in many ways is much more scaleable.
We do have an energy crisis. But we are also in a time of unprecedented innovation. Innovation that will change our future and the future of the world around us in ways we could not have imagined.
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