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New, Cheap, Environmental-Friendly Solar Cells Made of Tin Are Around The Corner

Update Date: May 05, 2014 11:52 AM EDT

Researchers are reportedly building a new environmentally friendly solar cell that uses tin instead of lead perovskite in order to harvest light. 

The newly discovered solar cell also uses a structure called perovskite but instead of lead, it equips tin for its light-absorbing material. While other cells that use lead, achieve about 15 percent efficiency, this innovative new cell is anticipated to surpass that. 

"Our tin-based perovskite layer acts as an efficient sunlight absorber that is sandwiched between two electric charge transport layers for conducting electricity to the outside world," said Robert Chang, one of the researchers, in a news release.

Researchers said tin being the viable material will bring the cost of solar cells down.

The solar cell in question is essentially a solid-state solar cell comprising sandwich of five layers. The first layer is glass followed by a layer of titanium dioxide which on combination together act as the electric front contact of the device.

"Other scientists will see what we have done and improve on our methods," said Mecouri Kanatzidis, one of the researchers, in a news release. "There is no reason this new material can't reach an efficiency better than 15 percent, which is what the lead perovskite solar cell offers. Tin and lead are in the same group in the periodic table, so we expect similar results."

The findings of the study are published in the journal Nature Photonics.

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