Scientists Found Caffeine Gives Solar Cells an Energy Boost

By: | May 5th, 2019

Image courtesy Rui Wang and Jingjing Xue

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have discovered that caffeine can help in improving the performance and thermal stability of metal halide perovskite solar cells. Researchers foresee that this technique could enhance the commercial potential of these solar cells.

Perovskites solar cells are cheaper, are more flexible than solar cells made from silicon and are easier to manufacture. However there are certain drawbacks as well, they can’t withstand sustained heat from sunlight, are very unstable and they disintegrate in the presence of water and other contaminants.

Yang, professor of materials science and engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, said, “Solar cells need high thermal stability since they are constantly exposed to sunlight, which warms up the devices,”

“While perovskites are an attractive option for solar cells, the materials degrade and become less stable over time. We need them to last 20 to 30 years like traditional solar cells.”

Caffeine makes perovskite photovoltaics more stable

The idea began as a joke over morning coffee, one of the Scientist Jokes about Using Coffee to Get More Power. They then tried adding caffeine to the mix. To the team’s surprise, their experiment worked. Researchers found that caffeine improved the performance and thermal stability of perovskite solar cells.

Yang, said, “It might sound like an unthinkable story, how lucky this group is. However, in reality, we have studied the perovskite for six or seven years; there is a lot of accumulated knowledge behind this ‘pure luck,”

 “In addition, we have tried many of the molecules that did not work well, and we never bother to report them. The caffeine was identified, after the lucky pick, having the lone electron pairs in the oxygen atom; hence we have some ideas before we really put caffeine molecules to test.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

More articles from Industry Tap...