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Researchers Build New Bio Solar Cell Technology That Can Also Be Used In Rainy Days.
- Jul 09, 2018 -

Researchers at The University of British Columbia have discovered a new cheap way to turn sunlight into energy with bacteria made solar cells. The current produced by this solar cell is stronger than any similar device recorded before, and is equally effective in both strong and weak light environments.

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This revolutionary new solar technology can be further extended to many places, such as the cloudy parts of British Columbia and Northern Europe. After further research and development, these bio solar cells may be as efficient as man-made batteries used in traditional solar panels.


"The unique solution we've developed for British Columbia is an important step in making solar technology more economical," said project head and Professor Vikramaditya Yadav, a professor of chemistry and bioengineering at the The University of British Columbia. Solar cells are made of solar panels, which turn sunlight into electricity.


Researchers have also built bio solar cells before, but they are all working on extracting natural dyes for photosynthesis. It is an expensive and complex process, which requires not only the use of toxic solvents, but also the degradation of dyes. The solution put forward by researchers at The University of British Columbia is to preserve these biological dyes in bacteria.


They have genetically edited Escherichia coli to produce a large amount of lycopene, which gives the tomato a red orange color, which turns light into energy. The researchers encapsulated a layer of minerals in Escherichia coli as a semiconductor and placed it on a glass surface.


The researchers used coated glass as an electrode for solar cells, which obtained a current density of 0.686 Ma per square millimeter per square millimeter, up 0.362 Ma more than other biological solar cells in the field. Yadav said: "we have recorded the highest current density of biological solar cells. The hybrid materials we developed are cheap and sustainable, and after sufficient optimization, the conversion efficiency can be compared to the traditional solar cells. "


The cost of this technology is difficult to estimate, but Yadav believes that this process reduces the cost of dye extraction by 1/10. Yadav said the study focused on finding a process that would not kill bacteria, so that they could manufacture biological dyes indefinitely. This bio solar cell technology also has other potential applications, such as mining, deep-sea exploration and other low light environments.