With the increasing demand for low carbon energy solutions, improved solar power utilization has become necessary. Using earth abundant iron pyrite (FeS2) researchers at the University of Kansas have created an all-in-one solution that overcomes the long term challenges of solar power efficiency and the need for separate devices for photoelectron conversion and storage.
The current method of using solar photovoltaic panels for conversion and batteries/supercapacitors for storage typically averages only 10 to 15% efficiency. In past years, nanostructured materials have been theorized as a viable option to be utilized as photovoltaics, energy storage batteries, and photocatalysts. Recently photocapacitors have emerged as a viable technology, but are still limited because the use separate electrolyte systems for conversion and storage.
To fully exploit photocapacitors, researchers at The University of Kansas have developed a one material-electrolyte system that achieves both goals. The material, earth abundant iron pyrite in an ionic liquid electrolyte solution, produces an efficient photocapacitor.
Iron pyrite has long been thought to be an ideal nanomaterial for such purposes but is known to have an affinity for developing surface defects. Through studying the crystal formation, researchers have found a way to create nanomaterials that mitigate the formation of defects in the crystalline material. The uniformity that is created by this process allows for increased efficiency of the material which will facilitate FeS2 to becoming the gold standard for solar energy.
By utilizing a low cost and abundant material to combine two devices into a single device, and improve efficiency, this new technology could result in wider usage of solar energy.
If you are interested in learning more, a summary of this new technology is available. To download a white paper about the technology, please fill out the form below.