Cheaper solar cells on way?

Researchers at the University of Basel have successfully replaced the rare element iodine in copper based, dye sensitised solar cells with the more abundant element cobalt.

The breakthrough is expected to pave the way for cheaper solar cells. Tests showed no loss in performance.

"The replacement of iodine significantly increases the sustainability of solar cells," commented project leader Dr Biljana Bozic-Weber. "Iodine is a rare element, only present at a level of 450 parts per billion in the Earth, whereas cobalt is 50 times more abundant."

According to Dr Bozic-Weber, the use of cobalt also removes one of the long term degradation processes in which copper compounds react with the electrolyte to form copper iodide - thus improving the long term stability of dye sensitised solar cells.

Laura Hopperton

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