Los Angeles, April 26 (CNA) Caffeine may hold the key to making Peruvian solar cells commercially viable by improving their thermal stability, according to recent discoveries by US Taiwanese scientist Yang Yang (楊陽) and his research team in Los Angeles.
Peruvian solar cells are believed to be the future of solar energy because they are energy efficient compared to traditional solar cells with silicon and are cheaper to produce.
However, they have yet to be commercialized, due to their weak thermal stability, Yang, Carroll and Lawrence E. said. Tanas Jr., award-winning professor of materials science and engineering in Los Angeles.
Solar cells should have high thermal stability because they are constantly exposed to sunlight, Yang said.
The idea of testing caffeine for thermal stability in Peruvian solar cells was originally conceived by two of his UCLA researchers during a coffee break, he said.
Because caffeine boils at 300 degrees Celsius, which is significantly higher than the operating temperature of the solar cells, Yang said they decided to try.
His team later discovered that the chemical structure in caffeine is a strong binding to ionic ions – a key material of Peruvian solar cells – and this chemistry is useful for the operation of cells.
The researchers found that by adding caffeine to Peruvian solar cells, they could maintain thermal stability for up to 1,300 hours, or about 55 days, while preserving 86 percent of the energy from sunlight.
Peruvian solar cells made without caffeine only retain 60 percent of their energy after 175 hours, or about seven days.
Yang said that caffeine is the first compound tested by his team to show positive results, although there may be others who can work even more efficiently, which could help boost the commercialization of Peruvian solar cells due to its stabilizing properties.
His study titled "Caffeine Improves the Performance and Thermal Stability of Peruvian Solar Cells" conducted by Yang and his researchers was published on Thursday by the popular scientific journal Julie.
Yang, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Cheng Kung National University in Taiwan, received a Master's degree in physics and applied physics at U-Mass, Lowell in 1988 and a doctoral dissertation on the same topic at the same school in 1992.
According to his online summary at UCLA, Yang's main research interests are in solar energy and high-efficiency electronic devices.
He has more than 331 referenced papers, 24 issued patents and more than 120 plenary, introductory and invited talks. Since 1997, he has supervised 42 doctoral and 51 postdox until completion. Among them, 25 became a mandate or faculty.
(From Linhong-Khan and Ko Lin)
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