With the recent advances made by Chinese scientists at Suzhou University, it is time to come up with a new term for devices that generate energy from background light. It is already wrong to call them solar, because they were originally designed to work indoors, without access to sunlight. The source of energy for them is the light coming from various artificial devices, from ordinary light bulbs to computer screens and gadgets.
The attention of Chinese scientists was attracted by the mineral perovskite, the unique possibilities of which are severely limited by one drawback - its most effective form for absorbing light contains toxic lead. This puts an end to the massive use of lead halide-based perovskite, so Suzhou began to investigate other candidates. Through trial and error, scientists have obtained several materials based on perovskite, which are safe for humans and wildlife.
New materials are practically useless for use in solar cells, the efficiency of absorption of light from our star is no more than 1%. But indoors, under artificial light, the figure rises to 4-5%. And this is already close to the standards of photovoltaics for closed areas, plus it opens up opportunities for commercialization. For example, perovskite panels can power a TFT circuit that drives one of the smart home systems.
As a bonus, scientists have endowed the materials with properties that allow them to be applied to fabric or plastic without compromising their primary function. The absence of lead turned out to be very handy - manufacturers of clothing and accessories will certainly be interested in such technologies. Imagine a raincoat or umbrella that collects energy from glowing advertising screens in the city, even in cloudy weather, in order to gradually recharge the smartwatch on its owner's wrist.