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Tin-based Solar Cells May Lead to Renewable Breakthrough

Tin-based Solar Cells One of the biggest roadblocks to widespread adoption of solar energy in the past was cost.  As the production, installation and maintenance of solar systems continues to become more cost-effective, adoption has steadily climbed.  Recent developments at the University of Warwick (UW) suggest that a new breakthrough in solar power could soon make solar energy more affordable and commercially viable than ever.

As researchers looked for a way to make solar cells more efficient, the made a discovery in the laboratory of a new, promising type of semiconductors that contain lead.  While lead is highly efficient for converting sunlight directly into energy, there are a number of reasons why lead in the compound may prevent wider adoption.  For starters, many organizations are required to comply with lead-free regulations, meaning that systems containing lead would be automatically disqualified from the onset.  In addition, lead is a heavy metal that comes with an extensive, and costly, manufacturing process.

Scientists at UW have discovered a way to replace lead in these emerging semiconductors with tin.  Tin is a lighter metal that requires less fabrication during the manufacturing process.  UW researchers believe this will streamline the manufacturing process, possibly leading to solar energy that is cheaper for consumers without sacrificing the efficiency of the system.

In addition, tin meets a wider array of regulations than lead, meaning that organizations falling within the scope of government regulators—such as public schools and hospitals—would be able to incorporate this new type of renewable solar into their energy strategy.

Researchers at UW believe that tin has the potential to open up a new range of solar applications, from laptops, mobile devices and even cars.

Read the full story here.

If you’re ready to take advantage of the benefits of renewable solar energy, check out the systems available from ConEdison Solutions here

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