National Physical Laboratory

Big beats bolster solar cell efficiency

As reported in New Scientist, scientists at the Queen Mary University of London and Imperial College London have found that vibrations, like those caused by pop and rock music, improve the performance of solar cells. Their study 'Acoustic Enhancement of Polymer/ZnO Nanorod Photovoltaic Device Performance' has been published in the journal Advanced Materials.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto
Image courtesy of iStockphoto

The high frequencies and pitch found in pop and rock music cause vibrations that enhanced energy generation in solar cells containing a cluster of 'nanorods', leading to a 40 % increase in efficiency of the solar cells. The study has implications for improving energy generation from sunlight, particularly for the development of new, lower cost, printed solar cells.

Dr Steve Dunn, Reader in Nanoscale Materials from Queen Mary's School of Engineering and Materials Science, said: "At the moment we are working very closely with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), who are helping us with the measuring and the calibration and the traceability of our output from our devices." Watch video: Good Vibrations - harvesting energy from sound

Paul Weaver, Principal Research Scientist in NPL's Functional Materials Group said:

"Anything that can improve the conversion efficiency of this type of solar cell is clearly useful. It's interesting that exploiting combinations of properties in these complex, multifunctional materials can produce unexpected benefits."

Find out more about Queen Mary's School of Engineering and Materials Science research

Read New Scientist article: Pop music makes solar cells produce more electricity

Find out more about NPL's Functional Material research

Last Updated: 18 Sep 2017
Created: 11 Nov 2013

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