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I am a grade six student at Sir William Osler elementary, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This school term I will be conducting a scientific experiment for my class science fair. The topic I have selected is regarding the productivity of solar panels under different so-called “filters” of light. Such filters are transparent plastic sheets colored red, yellow, and blue. In my current project, I will be testing the productivity of my solar cells under such circumstances. The experiment will be carried out in 10 to 15 trials in the next three weeks.

I am writing this letter of inquiry in hope that I may have the opportunity to ask you several questions pertaining to my project as I have found it is in your area of expertise.

Do you see any possible advances being made in the near future regarding different spectrums of light being most effective toward solar panel efficiency? Have you possibly made any advances in the topic yourself?

Question Date: 2017-10-15
Answer 1:

This is definitely something that has been an area of active research. One example of this is to use multi-junction solar cells in which multiple material layers are used to capture different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The field of solar cell research is a huge area. Improving solar panel efficiency is a materials challenge, an engineering challenge, and a device challenge.

Currently, an exciting area of research is in the materials system known as halide perovskites. Halide perovskites have generated a lot of attention because of their simple growth process and ability to achieve sizeable efficiencies with little optimization.

A big challenge with this materials system is that they degrade quickly with time and often contain highly toxic elements.

​Exploration of materials systems (both organic and inorganic) is a huge area in solar cell research​, but is only the beginning of the story. For it to be a marketable product, it needs to be integrated into a device and easily maintained, both areas for which study is ripe.

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