Using a technique in which chemical ingredients assemble themselves, a research team has developed a potentially inexpensive way of making solar cells. So far, high cost has hampered the large-scale use of solar energy systems.
Solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells, transform photons into electric current without producing pollution. Commercially available solar cells already convert sunlight efficiently enough for certain applications, such as satellites, notes J. Devin MacKenzie of the University of Cambridge in England.
The widespread use of solar power has been elusive because it can be difficult and costly to manufacture the commercial photovoltaic cells, which are made of inorganic crystals such as silicon, MacKenzie says.
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