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Lithuanian researchers advance solar cell technology

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Lithuanian researchers advance solar cell technology


Lithuanian researchers advance solar cell technology

by Robert Schreiber

Berlin, Germany (SPX) May 16, 2024






Researchers from Kaunas University of Technology (KTU), Lithuania, who previously developed high-efficiency solar cells, have expanded their invention. The self-assembled monolayers can now be applied in both inverted and regular structure perovskite solar cells.

Self-assembling molecules form a single-molecule-thick layer, acting as an electron-transporting layer in solar cells.



“The molecules that make up these monolayers, like a clever glue, coat the surface of the constructed devices with a thin one molecule thick layer. And this is not random, they don’t stick wherever they go, but attach themselves by chemical bonds only where they are in contact with conductive metal oxide,” explained Tadas Malinauskas, Professor at KTU’s Faculty of Chemical Technology and one of the inventors of the new technology.



According to Malinauskas, creating such a layer is a simple and material-efficient process that requires a glass substrate with an electrically conductive metal oxide layer to be immersed in or sprayed with a highly diluted solution of the compound. The self-assembling molecules attach only to the metal oxide surface, with non-adhering molecules being washed away. This creates a thin layer precisely where it is needed.



KTU researchers have been synthesizing and studying charge-transporting organic materials for several years, focusing previously on molecules for positive charge transfer in perovskite solar cells.



“We can already say with confidence that these molecules have given a major boost to the development of the next generation solar cells. So, our next step is quite logical: to develop analogous molecules that can carry negative charges, and to apply these materials in perovskite solar cells,” said Vytautas Getautis, professor at the KTU Faculty of Chemical Technology and head of the research group.



Although it is a very thin layer, its role in solar cells is critical. Malinauskas compared its function to that of an automatic gate in the subway, allowing only one type of charge to pass through towards the electrode, thereby increasing solar cell efficiency.



Perovskite solar cell structures vary in layer sequence. In the regular structure, a negative charge transporting layer is formed on a transparent substrate, followed by light-absorbing and positive charge transporting layers. In the inverted structure, the positive and negative charge transport layers are swapped.



KTU PhD student Lauryna Monika Svirskaite explained that the main difference between the two structures lies in their application areas. The regular structure is used for studying low-cost, easier-manufactured but less efficient solar cells, while the inverted architecture allows for more efficient combined devices, known as tandem devices.



Currently, as both structures are being intensively researched, KTU scientists believe that their new invention is as significant and promising as their previous developments.



The new invention resulted from collaboration with scientists from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).



“We, KTU chemists, were responsible for the development, improvement, and optimisation of the materials and coating technology, while our colleagues from Saudi Arabia investigated the performance of it in solar cells,” revealed Malinauskas.



Greta Zekiene, head of Intellectual Property Management at KTU’s National Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre (NIEC), said the demand for this invention is surprisingly high. Interest in the invention’s industrial use preceded the patent application filing.



“A Japanese company, with whom we already have several licences for inventions in this field, immediately expressed the interest to have the innovation in their product portfolio. They were waiting for us to prepare a patent application. The process of negotiating a licence agreement started right away,” said Zekiene.



She emphasized that obtaining a patent is not necessary for commercializing an invention, as it depends on the individual case. Commercialization can occur at any time if a business declares its intention to license or take over all the property rights.



Zekiene added that inventions in the field of solar cells made by the Synthesis of Organic Semiconductors research group are the strongest in KTU’s patent portfolio and receive significant interest from businesses. “We feel proud and acknowledged when companies want to start using the inventions as soon as possible,” she said.



Research Report:Nonfullerene Self-Assembled Monolayers As Electron-Selective Contacts for n-i-p Perovskite Solar Cells


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Sweeping review reveals impact of integrating AI into photovoltaics

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Sweeping review reveals impact of integrating AI into photovoltaics


Sweeping review reveals impact of integrating AI into photovoltaics

by Simon Mansfield

Sydney, Australia (SPX) Jun 13, 2024






Artificial intelligence is set to enhance photovoltaic systems by improving efficiency, reliability, and predictability of solar power generation.

In their paper published on May 8 in CAAI Artificial Intelligence Research, a research team from Chinese and Malaysian universities examined the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) technology on photovoltaic (PV) power generation systems and their applications globally.



“The overall message is an optimistic outlook on how AI can lead to more sustainable and efficient energy solutions,” said Xiaoyun Tian from Beijing University of Technology. “By improving the efficiency and deployment of renewable energy sources through AI, there is significant potential to reduce global carbon emissions and to make clean energy more accessible and reliable for a broader population.”



The team, which included researchers from Beijing University of Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Hebei University, and the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, focused their review on key applications of AI in maximum power point tracking, power forecasting, and fault detection within PV systems.



The maximum power point (MPP) refers to the specific operating point where a PV cell or an entire PV array yields its peak power output under prevailing illumination conditions. Tracking and exploiting the point of maximum power by adjusting the operating point of the PV array to maximize output power is a critical issue in solar PV systems. Traditional methods have defects, resulting in reduced efficiency, hardware wear, and suboptimal performance during sudden weather changes.



The researchers reviewed publications showing how AI techniques can achieve high performance in solving the MPP tracking problem. They compiled methods that presented both single and hybrid AI methods to solve the tracking problem, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.



The team reviewed publications that presented AI algorithms applied in PV power forecasting and defect detection technologies. Power forecasting, which predicts the production of PV power over a certain period, is crucial for PV grid integration as the share of solar energy in the mix increases annually. Fault detection in PV systems can identify various types of failures, such as environmental changes, panel damage, and wiring failures. For large-scale PV systems, traditional manual inspection is almost impossible. AI algorithms can identify deviations from normal operating conditions that may indicate faults or anomalies proactively.



The research team compared AI-driven techniques, exploring and presenting advantages and disadvantages of each approach.



While integrating AI technology optimizes PV systems’ operational efficiency, new challenges continue to arise. These challenges are driven by issues such as revised standards for achieving carbon neutrality, interdisciplinary cooperation, and emerging smart grids.



The researchers highlighted some emerging challenges and the need for advanced solutions in AI, such as transfer learning, few-shot learning, and edge computing.



According to the paper’s authors, the next steps should focus on further research directed towards advancing AI techniques that target the unique challenges of PV systems; practical implementation of AI solutions into existing PV infrastructure on a wider scale; scaling up successful AI integration; developing supportive policy frameworks that encourage the use of AI in renewable energy; increasing awareness about the benefits of AI in enhancing PV system efficiencies; and ultimately aligning these technological advancements with global sustainability targets.



“AI-driven techniques are essential for the future development and widespread adoption of solar-energy technologies globally,” Tian said.



The research was supported by the National Key R and D Program of China and Fundamental Research Grant Scheme of Malaysia. The grants are part of the China-Malaysia Intergovernmental Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperative Program 2023.



Other contributors include Jiaming Hu, Kang Wang, and Dachuan Xu from Beijing University of Technology; Boon-Han Lim from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman; Feng Zhang from Hebei University; and Yong Zhang from Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, Chinese Academy of Science.



Research Report:A Comprehensive Review of Artificial Intelligence Applications in Photovoltaic Systems


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New approaches for perovskite-based ferroelectric ceramics in energy storage

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New approaches for perovskite-based ferroelectric ceramics in energy storage


New approaches for perovskite-based ferroelectric ceramics in energy storage

by Simon Mansfield

Sydney, Australia (SPX) Jun 13, 2024






With the increasing impacts of climate change and resource depletion, dielectric capacitors are becoming key candidates for high-performance energy storage devices. However, various dielectric ceramics, such as paraelectrics, ferroelectrics, and antiferroelectrics, face challenges due to their low polarizability, low breakdown strength, and large hysteresis loss. Therefore, synthesizing novel perovskite-based materials that offer high energy density, efficiency, and low loss is essential for improving energy storage performance.

A team of material scientists led by Bingcheng Luo from the Department of Applied Physics at China Agricultural University recently reviewed the state of perovskite-based ferroelectric ceramics for energy storage. These capacitors are noted for their stability, high energy and power density, conversion efficiency, wide operating temperature range, environmental friendliness, and cost-effectiveness, setting them apart from traditional electrochemical capacitors and batteries.



“In this review, we outlined the recent development of perovskite-based ferroelectric energy storage ceramics from the perspective of combinatorial optimization for tailoring ferroelectric hysteresis loops and comprehensively discussed the properties arising from the different combinations of components. Also, we provided the future guidelines in this realm and therefore, the combinatorial optimization strategy in this review will open up a practical route towards the application of new high-performance ferroelectric energy storage devices,” said Bingcheng Luo, senior author of the review paper, professor in the Department of Applied Physics at China Agricultural University, who received his PhD in 2018 in Tsinghua University and then worked as Research Associate at University of Cambridge.



Dielectric materials can be categorized into four types based on their hysteresis loops: paraelectric (PE), ferroelectric (FE), relaxor ferroelectric (RFE), and antiferroelectric (AFE), each with unique properties.



The research team highlights advancements in the energy storage performance of lead-free ferroelectric ceramics. “We classify the perovskites-based ferroelectric ceramics into seven types for tailoring ferroelectric hysteresis loops from the perspective of combinatorial optimization and comprehensively discuss the properties arising from the different combinations of components. The concept of combinatorial optimization is to maximize breakdown strength and maximum saturation polarization while slenderizing electric hysteresis loop, which bolsters the energy storage performance of perovskites-based ferroelectric ceramics,” Bingcheng Luo said.



The seven types of combinatorial optimization of perovskite-based ferroelectric ceramics discussed in the review include FE vs. PE, FE vs. FE, FE vs. AFE, AFE vs. PE, RFE vs. PE, RFE vs. FE, and RFE vs. AFE combinations. Luo explained, “As an example of combinatorial optimization strategies, ferroelectrics have higher maximum saturation polarization, and paraelectrics have higher breakdown strength, and the combination of the two creates an RFE that has the advantages of both materials and with a narrower hysteresis loop, the long-range ferroelectric order will become polar nanodomains, which will increase the energy storage density and efficiency of ceramics.”



The concept of combinatorial optimization aims to maximize the complementary advantages of each component. Generally, polarization and breakdown strength are mutually exclusive in dielectric materials. Increasing the content of one component alone does not achieve high breakdown strength or polarization. It is necessary to find the optimal balance between these factors and tailor more optimized hysteresis loops to improve energy storage performance.



The team anticipates that their review of combinatorial optimization strategies will not only aid in the design of future high-performance passive devices but also provide guidance for the practical utilization of ferroelectric ceramics.



Research Report:Combinatorial optimization of perovskites-based ferroelectric ceramics for energy storage applications


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Redwire to Develop Solar Arrays for Thales Alenia Space’s New GEO Satellites

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Redwire to Develop Solar Arrays for Thales Alenia Space’s New GEO Satellites


Redwire to Develop Solar Arrays for Thales Alenia Space’s New GEO Satellites

by Clarence Oxford

Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jun 11, 2024






Redwire Corporation (NYSE: RDW) announced it will develop and deliver Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) wings for Thales Alenia Space’s Space Inspire satellites, the newest product line of geostationary (GEO) telecommunications satellites.

A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space is a prime manufacturer providing space solutions for telecommunications, Earth observation, exploration, and navigation. The cooperation between the two companies on this project began last year.



“Redwire is proud to be a trusted supplier for Thales Alenia Space’s innovative Space Inspire satellite solution that will provide unprecedented flexibility for the GEO telecommunications market,” said Mike Gold, Redwire’s Chief Growth Officer. “Leveraging unmatched innovation and a 100% on-orbit success rate, Redwire’s ROSA technology has become the power solution of choice for today’s most cutting-edge missions and platforms from LEO to GEO and beyond.”



The ROSA wings for the first Thales Alenia Space’s Space Inspire satellites will measure approximately 80 feet long and provide over 25 kW of power per spacecraft, making them among the most robust solar arrays ever used on a GEO satellite.



Redwire’s ROSA technology has a strong track record of reliability and successful on-orbit performance for various civil and commercial missions including the International Space Station, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, and the Maxar-built Power and Propulsion Element for the Artemis Lunar Gateway.



The development of Thales Alenia Space’s Space Inspire product line is supported by the French national space agency CNES.


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