What if your phone or tablet could be charged by just leaving it out in the sunlight with no additional equipment required? Such technology is on its way, thanks to a new miracle material called perovskite, discovered by scientists at Nanyang Technological University to have properties that allow it to absorb solar energy while also acting as a light display with full color capabilities.
Perovskite is a mineral that contains calcium titanium oxide. It was discovered in Russia in the 1800’s, but has also been found in the U.S. and Europe and is commonly found in meteorites. Recently, it’s been found to have great conventional solar energy conversion properties, almost twice as good as traditional silicon solar cells. It’s also useful in making lasers. Now, we’ve discovered something even more amazing about perovskite: it can not only act as a solar cell, but it can also generate light.
Like many great scientific discoveries, this one was a happy accident. While the Nanyang team studied the mineral for its laser-creating properties, they discovered that it emitted bright light when a laser fired at it. This is a surprise, because other materials used for solar cells just don’t do this. So not only can perovskite capture light and turn it into energy, it also doubles as a semi-translucent light display. The scientists also discovered that they could create multiple colors with the light display by altering the perovskite’s composition. Even better, creating solar cells from perovskite is cheap and easy: its manufacturing process is simpler than that of other materials.
The applications for the use of pervoskite in technology are multifold: not only can we use this for displays on mobile devices (along with powering them), but we could also use it on buildings, allowing the material to generate electricity during the day and lighting up as an advertising display at night.