Researchers develop solar cells using live algae

A research team from India's Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University developed solar cells using live algae, fabricated the bio-photovoltaic device using a freshwater filamentous macro algae, Pithophora, which is found at the bottom of aquatic habitats or forming mats dense on the surface of the water.

A team of researchers from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University in India has developed solar cells using live algae.

The team fabricated a bio-photovoltaic device using a macroscopic filamentous freshwater algae, Pithophora, commonly found at the bottom of aquatic habitats or forming dense mats on the water surface.

Researchers collected algae from a pond, cleaned them, and reduced them into small fragments. They then constructed a device by placing a biofilm, an algae film, between an upper electrode made of copper coated with activated carbon and a lower electrode made of fluorine-doped tin oxide coated with titanium dioxide.

Their work is detailed in the research article titled “Sustainable power generation from live freshwater photosynthetic filamentous macroalgae Pithophora“, published in the Journal of Science: Advanced Materials and Devices. The article states that it is “perhaps the first reporting work where live freshwater macroalgae generate electricity in a sandwich between two modified electrodes that collect charged particles.”

Sudip Kumar Batabyal, one of the researchers and authors of the report, told pv-magazine that biological photovoltaic technology has the potential to be a sustainable alternative to traditional solar cells. It does not require the use of expensive or toxic materials and can be cultivated using renewable resources. Spain and South Korea are also reportedly developing algae-based cells. However, Batabyal added that the technology faces many challenges such as low efficiency and scalability, i.e., the ability to increase or decrease efficiency according to needs.

Although the current device has provided lower power compared to silicon technology, this green photovoltaic technology holds promise as a sustainable solution for future solar energy generation.

Source: pv-magazine

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