New technique may make solar panel production less expensive

Scientists Aditya Mohite (l) and Wanyi Nie (r), along with other researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, published a report on a new technique for solar cell production Jan. 30. Photo by Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Scientists have developed a more efficient method of creating the material that makes solar panels work, according to a report published this week, which researchers say could be key to creating clean global energy in the future. 

The report, published on Friday in the journal Science, details the feat by researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who used a technique called hot-casting to grow solar cells from a mineral called perovskite. Clusters of these cells, which convert light to energy, are used in solar panels.

Scientists hope this method of creating solar cells will offer a more cost-effective alternative to silicon, currently the most commonly used material in solar-panel production.

"These perovskite crystals offer promising routes for developing low-cost, solar-based, clean global energy solutions for the future," said Aditya Mohite, the project's leading scientist. "If you can harvest that [solar energy] at a very very low cost…then that gives us a route to become really completely energy independent as a nation and even as a planet."

Recently, the city of Burlington, Vt., became the first in the country to use 100 percent renewable energy for its electricity needs. Watch the signature piece from NewsHour Weekend below:

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