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The future is lead-free for perovskite solar cells

A lead-free and non-toxic alternative to current perovskite solar-cell technology has been reported by researchers in the UK: tin halide perovskite solar cells. They are also cheaper to manufacture than the silicon solar cells currently dominating the market.The future is lead-free for perovskite solar cells

Nakita Noel, part of Henry Snaith’s research team at the University of Oxford, describes how perovskite materials have caused a bit of a whirlwind since they came out in 2009: ‘Everybody that’s working in the solar community is looking to beat silicon.’ Despite the high efficiency of conventional crystalline silicon solar cells (around 20%), high production and installation costs decrease their economic feasibility and widespread use.

The challenge to find a cheaper alternative led to the development of perovskite-based solar cells, as organic–inorganic metal trihalide perovskites have both abundant and cheap starting materials. However, the presence of lead in some semiconductors could create toxicology issues in the future. As Noel puts it ‘every conference you present at somebody is bound to put up their hand and ask “What about the lead – isn’t this toxic?”

Interested to find out more? Read the full article by Vicki Marshall in Chemistry World.

Read the original article in Energy & Environmental Science.

Lead-Free Organic-Inorganic Tin Halide Perovskites for Photovoltaic Applications
Nakita K. Noel, Samuel D. Stranks, Antonio Abate, Christian Wehrenfennig, Simone Guarnera, Amir Haghighirad, Aditya Sadhanala, Giles E Eperon, Sandeep K. Pathak, Michael B Johnston, annamaria petrozza, Laura Herz and Henry Snaith
Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C4EE01076K

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Putting the power in power-dressing – EES article in Chemistry World

Scientists in the UK developing wearable electronics have knitted a flexible fabric that delivers twice the power output of current energy harvesting textiles.

There is considerable interest and research into wearable piezoelectric energy harvesters that use waste energy from human movement or the ambient environment to power low-energy consuming wearable devices, such as wireless sensors and consumer electronics. Typically these materials are ceramic-based with limited flexibility, so aren’t that comfortable to wear, and include toxic elements like lead. They also involve charge-collecting metallic electrodes with poor fatigue resistance that fail after repeated use. New, less rigid materials with sufficient mechanical strength and an all-in-one design are therefore highly sought after.

The polymeric piezoelectric fibres created by Navneet Soin at the University of Bolton and colleagues in the laboratory of Elias Siores fulfill all of the above: they are flexible, strong and breathable.

Interested to know more? Read the full news article by Polly Wilson on Chemistry World here…

Read the article by N Soin et al. in EES:

Novel “3-D spacer” all fibre piezoelectric textiles for energy harvesting applications
Navneet Soin, Tahir Shah, Subhash Anand, Junfeng Geng, Wiwat Pornwannachai, Pranab Mandal, David Reid, Surbhi Sharma, Ravi Hadimani, Derman Vatansever Bayramol and Elias Siores
Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE43987A, Paper

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EES Issue 2 of 2014 out now!

Graphical abstract: Front coverThe latest issue of EES is now online. You can read the full issue here.

The outside front cover features the paper Exciton diffusion in organic photovoltaic cells by S. Matthew Menke and Russell J. Holmes.

Lead candidates for high-performance organic photovoltaics from high-throughput quantum chemistry – the Harvard Clean Energy Project is the paper highlighted on the inside front cover by Johannes Hachmann, Roberto Olivares-Amaya, Adrian Jinich, Anthony L. Appleton, Martin A. Blood-Forsythe, László R. Seress, Carolina Román-Salgado, Kai Trepte, Sule Atahan-Evrenk, Süleyman Er, Supriya Shrestha, Rajib Mondal, Anatoliy Sokolov, Zhenan Bao and Alán Aspuru-Guzik.

Issue 2 contains a number of excellent Analysis, Review and Perspective articles:

Energy demand and emissions of the non-energy sector
Vassilis Daioglou, Andre P. C. Faaij, Deger Saygin, Martin K. Patel, Birka Wicke and Detlef P. van Vuuren

Lithium metal anodes for rechargeable batteries
Wu Xu, Jiulin Wang, Fei Ding, Xilin Chen, Eduard Nasybulin, Yaohui Zhang and Ji-Guang ZhangGraphical abstract: Inside front cover

Recent progress on flexible lithium rechargeable batteries
Hyeokjo Gwon, Jihyun Hong, Haegyeom Kim, Dong-Hwa Seo, Seokwoo Jeon and Kisuk Kang

Enhancing SOFC cathode performance by surface modification through infiltration
Dong Ding, Xiaxi Li, Samson Yuxiu Lai, Kirk Gerdes and Meilin Liu

Heterogeneous nanocarbon materials for oxygen reduction reaction
Da-Wei Wang and Dangsheng Su

Directing the film structure of organic semiconductors via post-deposition processing for transistor and solar cell applications
Anna M. Hiszpanski and Yueh-Lin Loo

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Efficient recovery justifies silver’s use in solar cells – EES article in Chemistry World

Silver is a scarce raw material but the first real scale study of recycling polymer solar cells reveals that its use can be sustainable.

Putting up huge nubers of solar panels every day could help address the world’s energy crisis. ‘If you want to solve big problems, then the scale of whatever you are doing is also likely to be big, and so is any waste you generate,’ explains Frederik Krebs who led the study at the Technical University of Denmark. ‘This should therefore be part of your thinking when you are developing something.’

Silver is needed for solar cell electrodes but it is also a precious metal, cutting into both the cost of production and energy payback time of mass-produced solar cells. Now, Krebs’ team has demonstrated that 95% of the silver electrodes in polymer solar cell modules can be reclaimed as silver chloride after simply shredding the modules and soaking them in nitric acid. This yield would diminish the overall energy payback time of the solar cells from 139 days to 128 days, a decrease of 8%.

Interested to know more? Read the full news article by Jennifer Newton on Chemistry World here…

Read the article by R R Søndergaard et al. in EES:

Efficient decommissioning and recycling of polymer solar cells: justification for use of silver
Roar R. Søndergaard, Nieves Espinosa, Mikkel Jørgensen and Frederik C. Krebs
Energy Environ. Sci., 2014, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE43746A, Communication

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EES Issue 1 of 2014 out now!

Graphical abstract: Front coverThe latest issue of EES is now online. You can read the full issue here.

The outside front cover features the paper Energy applications of ionic liquids by Douglas R. MacFarlane, Naoki Tachikawa, Maria Forsyth, Jennifer M. Pringle, Patrick C. Howlett, Gloria D. Elliott, James H. Davis, Masayoshi Watanabe, Patrice Simon and C. Austen Angell.

Constructing ionic highway in alkaline polymer electrolytes is the paper highlighted on the inside front cover by Jing Pan, Chen Chen, Yao Li, Lei Wang, Lisheng Tan, Guangwei Li, Xun Tang, Li Xiao, Juntao Lu and Lin Zhuang.

Issue 11 contains a number of excellent Opinion, Analysis, Review, Minireview and Perspective articles:

Electrochemical energy storage in a sustainable modern society
John B. Goodenough

Reflections on the topic of solar fuels
John Meurig Thomas

The renaissance of energy innovation
Jim Skea

Piezoelectric and ferroelectric materials and structures for energy harvesting applications
C. R. Bowen, H. A. Kim, P. M. Weaver and S. Dunn

Physics and chemistry of CdTe/CdS thin film heterojunction photovoltaic devices: fundamental and critical aspects
S. Girish Kumar and K. S. R. Koteswara Rao

Upgrading of lignin-derived bio-oils by catalytic hydrodeoxygenation
Majid Saidi, Fereshteh Samimi, Dornaz Karimipourfard, Tarit Nimmanwudipong, Bruce C. Gates and Mohammad Reza Rahimpour

Carbon capture and storage update
Matthew E. Boot-Handford, Juan C. Abanades, Edward J. Anthony, Martin J. Blunt, Stefano Brandani, Niall Mac Dowell, José R. Fernández, Maria-Chiara Ferrari, Robert Gross, Jason P. Hallett, R. Stuart Haszeldine, Graphical abstract: Inside front coverPhilip Heptonstall, Anders Lyngfelt, Zen Makuch, Enzo Mangano, Richard T. J. Porter, Mohamed Pourkashanian, Gary T. Rochelle, Nilay Shah, Joseph G. Yao and Paul S. Fennell

Energetic I–III–VI2 and I2–II–IV–VI4 nanocrystals: synthesis, photovoltaic and thermoelectric applications
Feng-Jia Fan, Liang Wu and Shu-Hong Yu

Lithium ion battery applications of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) nanocomposites
Tyler Stephenson, Zhi Li, Brian Olsen and David Mitlin

Energy applications of ionic liquids
Douglas R. MacFarlane, Naoki Tachikawa, Maria Forsyth, Jennifer M. Pringle, Patrick C. Howlett, Gloria D. Elliott, James H. Davis, Masayoshi Watanabe, Patrice Simon and C. Austen Angell

The panoscopic approach to high performance thermoelectrics
Li-Dong Zhao, Vinayak P. Dravid and Mercouri G. Kanatzidis

Transparent paper: fabrications, properties, and device applications
Hongli Zhu, Zhiqiang Fang, Colin Preston, Yuanyuan Li and Liangbing Hu

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Scorched hair makes supercapacitors greener – EES article in Chemistry World

Researchers in China have used human hair to make a vital component of energy-storage devices. The discovery could lead to more efficient and environmentally-friendly replacements for traditional batteries.

Many batteries currently in use, such as the lead–acid batteries in cars, are heavy and bulky and rely on hazardous chemicals to store electrical charge. With increasing worldwide sales of mobile electronics, the environmental impact of batteries is receiving more attention and motivating research into supercapacitors, which can be made from sustainable carbon-based materials.

Unfortunately, these carbon materials are usually either difficult to manufacture or derived from fossil fuels. Now, however, Feng Yan and his team at Soochow University have used a simple carbonisation process to turn human hair – a common and renewable waste product – into carbon flakes suitable for use in supercapacitor electrodes.

Interested to know more? Read the full news article by Stephan McCarthy in Chemistry World here…

Read the article by Wenjing Qian et al. in EES:

Human Hair-Derived Carbon Flakes for Electrochemical Supercapacitors
Wenjing Qian, fFengxia Sun, Yanhui Xu, Lihua Qiu, Chang-Hai Liu, Sui-Dong Wang and Feng Yan
Energy Environ. Sci., 2013, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE43111H, Paper

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From seaweed to solar cells – EES article in Chemistry World

After years of using platinum, scientists suggest they could one day use extracts from marine plants to replace it in solar cells.

Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) are quickly becoming a widespread and affordable alternative to photovoltaic solar cells. With this change of direction, it is pertinent that DSCs are made to be as efficient and inexpensive as possible for the mass market.

Platinum is traditionally used as the electrode material in DSCs, which, although it shows impressive performance, is not environmentally friendly and has high production costs.

Now, Tingli Ma and co-workers based in China, Japan and Switzerland have expanded their research on natural dyes and biomass manipulation to see if sea tangle, a common marine plant, is a suitable source of raw materials for DSCs. And their results look promising. The naturally sourced materials improve on the power conversion efficiency of previously tested natural dyes to the point where they are comparable to those of synthetic, more expensive materials.

Interested to know more? Read the full news article by Jessica Brand in Chemistry World here…

Read the article by Liang Wang et al. in EES:

From Marine Plant to Photovoltaic Devices
Liang Wang, Yantao Shi, Xiaogong Bai, Yujin Xing, Hong Zhang, lin Wang, Wei Guo, Ning Wang, Ting Li Ma and Michael Gratzel
Energy Environ. Sci., 2013, Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE42767F, Communication

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EES Issue 12 of 2013 out now!

The latest issue of EES is now online. You can read the full issue here.

The outside front cover features the paper Simulations of the irradiation and temperature dependence of the efficiency of tandem photoelectrochemical water-splitting systems by Sophia Haussener, Shu Hu, Chengxiang Xiang, Adam Z. Weber and Nathan S. Lewis.

Facile synthesis of mesoporous Ni 0.3Co 2.7O 4 hierarchical structures for high-performance supercapacitors is the paper highlighted on the inside front cover by Hao Bin Wu, Huan Pang and Xiong Wen (David) Lou.

Issue 11 contains a number of excellent Opinion, Analysis, Review and Perspective articles:

Survival of the fattest
Peter R. Mooij, Gerben R. Stouten, Jelmer Tamis, Mark C. M. van Loosdrecht and Robbert Kleerebezem

Towards 15% energy conversion efficiency: a systematic study of the solution-processed organic tandem solar cells based on commercially available materials
Ning Li, Derya Baran, Karen Forberich, Florian Machui, Tayebeh Ameri, Mathieu Turbiez, Miguel Carrasco-Orozco, Martin Drees, Antonio Facchetti, Frederik C. Krebs and Christoph J. Brabec

The identification, characterization and mitigation of defect states in organic photovoltaic devices: a review and outlook
John A. Carr and Sumit Chaudhary

Metal free sensitizer and catalyst for dye sensitized solar cells
Shahzada Ahmad, Elena Guillén, Ladislav Kavan, Michael Grätzel and Mohammad K. Nazeeruddin

Retrieving and converting energy from polymers: deployable technologies and emerging concepts
Bilge Baytekin, H. Tarik Baytekin and Bartosz A. Grzybowski

Graphene-based nanocomposites: preparation, functionalization, and energy and environmental applications
Haixin Chang and Hongkai Wu

Exceeding the Shockley–Queisser limit in solar energy conversion
Cory A. Nelson, Nicholas R. Monahan and X.-Y. Zhu

Stimulus-responsive graphene systems towards actuator applications
Yang Zhao, Long Song, Zhipan Zhang and Liangti Qu

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Big data approach to solar cells – EES article in Chemistry World

After 150 million theoretical calculations, scientists at Harvard University in the US reveal results that could cut down the time and cost of experimental tests to find better organic electronic materials for solar cells.

Most solar cells are made from expensive inorganic materials. Solar cells from organic materials are a cheaper alternative and scientists have been working to find designs that are as efficient as their inorganic counterparts. However, new organic solar cell materials must be built and tested before scientists can decide whether the idea is an improvement.

The Harvard Clean Energy Project (CEP) team led by Alán Aspuru-Guzik is using the predictive power of computers to speed up this process. Analogous to the modern drug discovery process, where large numbers of molecules can be virtually screened taking only the most biologically active ones forward into development and trials, Aspuru-Guzik’s group screened 2.3 million molecular structures to find ones that had the best properties for solar cells.

Interested to know more? Read the full news article by Rowan Frame in Chemistry World here…

Read the article by  J Hachmann et al. in EES:

Lead candidates for high-performance organic photovoltaics from high-throughput quantum chemistry – the Harvard Clean Energy Project
Stuart Licht, Baochen Cui, Jessica Stuart, Baohui Wang and Jason Lau
Energy Environ. Sci., 2013, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE42654H, Paper

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Molten air – a new class of battery – EES article in Chemistry World


Scientists from the US have invented a new type of battery. The so-called ‘molten air batteries’ have among the highest electrical storage capacities of all battery types to date.

Inexpensive batteries with better energy storage densities are needed for many applications. For example, one barrier to the large-scale adoption of electric cars is the limited distance they can travel before their battery needs recharging.

Stuart Licht and his group at George Washington University think their molten air batteries could be the answer. They made three different versions of the battery using iron, carbon or vanadium boride as the molten electrolyte. Just like metal–air batteries, molten air batteries use oxygen from the air as the cathode material instead of an internal oxidiser, which makes them light. And similar to very high energy density vanadium boride–air batteries, molten air batteries can store many electrons per molecule.

Interested to know more? Read the full news article by Rowan Frame in Chemistry World here…

Read the article by  S Licht et al. in EES:

Molten air – a new, highest energy class of rechargeable batteries
Stuart Licht, Baochen Cui, Jessica Stuart, Baohui Wang and Jason Lau
Energy Environ. Sci., 2013, Advance Article
DOI: 10.1039/C3EE42654H, Paper

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