Who Invented the Solar Battery?
Gerald Pearson, Calvin Fuller and Daryl Chapin invented the first solar battery which converted the Sun’s energy to electricity in 1954. They created an array of several strips of silicon (each about the size of a razor blade), placed them in sunlight, captured the free electrons and turned them into electrical current.
Bell Laboratories in New York announced the prototype manufacture of a new solar battery. Bell had funded the research. The first public service trial of the Bell Solar Battery began with a telephone carrier system (Americus, Georgia) on October 4 1955.
Recently in 2014 researchers at Ohio State University used a dye-sensitized solar cell using ruthenium that stores the power that it uses air to decompose and re-form lithium peroxide. It used three electrodes rather than the typical four. It featured a lithium plate base, two layers of electrode separated by a thin sheet of porous carbon and a titanium gauze mesh that played host to a dye-sensitive photoelectrode.
Porous materials allowed the battery’s ions to oxidize into lithium peroxide, which chemically decomposes into lithium ions and stored as lithium metal. The device used conventional liquid electrolyte consisting of part salt and part solvent (per chlorate mixed with organic solvent dimethyl sulfoxide.
In 2015 the same team announced modifications to their design such that compared with traditional lithium iodine batteries, energy savings reached 20 percent. The new design no longer needs air to pass through it in order to function. Water was the solvent and lithium iodide is the salt. The result is a water-based electrolyte and a prototype now classed as an aqueous flow battery. The device is topped with a solid solar panel in a single solid sheet.
Over 25 charge/discharge cycles, the battery released around 3.3 volts. While typical batteries are charged with 3.6 volts and discharge at 3.3 volts, the solar flow battery only needed 2.9 volts to charge with the solar panel making up the difference, almost 20 percent.
Another team wired four perovskite solar cells in series to enhance the voltage and photo-charge lithium batteries with 7.8% efficiency. Perovskite solar cells have active materials with a crystalline structure identical to the mineral perovskite. Perovskite cells convert a broader spectrum of sunlight into electricity than conventional silicon-based cells.