Solar Cells that Produce Electricity using Raindrops

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Solar Power installation is escalating globally, making it the cheapest electricity in many parts of the world. Regardless of the numerous advances in solar panels, cloudy or rainy conditions reduce the total amount of electricity created. In areas where it frequently rains, solar panels are not efficient for energy production. When the sky becomes cloudy, the sun’s rays do not reach the cell.

Now researchers have made hybrid solar panels that could generate power from raindrops. Studies developed a device called pseudocapacitor or triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) to a pre-existing solar panel, that could make energy from the motion of raindrops. When raindrops fall on to the layers and then roll off, the friction generates a static electricity charge. This device provides electricity even at night if there is rain. But they usually are complicated to manufacture and are bulky. So scientists want to produce an improved hybrid energy harvesting system.

The researchers imprinted two polymers, placing them on commercially available DVDs. Adding texture increased the TENG performance when water drops touched it and then fell off it. The textured layer acted as a mutual electrode for the TENG and the solar cell. It has been placed between the two devices and conducted energy from the TENG to the cell. Since the polymers are transparent, the solar panel could still generate energy from sunlight, as well as from falling raindrops.

Due to the unique design, the device becomes lightweight. These are integrated into mobile and flexible devices, such as electronic clothes. However, the output power efficiency needs to be further improved before practical applications.

Scientists have also used TENGs on solar cells to harvest power from the wind. The top layer of the TENG is also channeled to help focus more light on the solar cell.

This simple design demonstrates a fresh concept in energy harvesting during various weather conditions. However, power the device generates from falling rain needs to be significantly higher to start making an overall difference to a solar panel’s output.