Despite the extensive research and commercial development of solar cells, the world still has a critical need for new, high-efficiency photovoltaic (PV) technologies based on low-cost and abundant materials. The long-term goal of PV technology, which converts sunlight directly into electricity, is to compete against conventional fossil fuels to fulfill the already massive and ever-growing power needs of future generations.
Song Jin, associate professor of chemistry, is a major contributor to a national research team exploring promising earth-abundant, and therefore inexpensive, materials for use in solar collectors.
Jin is working with researchers from the University of Florida and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under a Scialog Collaborative Innovation Award from Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA).
The team’s research project focuses on designing and testing BaSi2, a compound of barium and silicon, respectively the 14th- and second-most abundant elements in earth’s crust, for use as the light-absorbing material in solar cells.
“The team hopes to better understand the properties of BaSi2 and exploit this promising solar cell material through the proposed experimental and computational work,” Jin says.
The Scialog Collaborative Innovation Award, which enables Jin and his collaborators to explore this line of research, stems from RCSA’s Scialog (short for science dialog) initiative, which encourages early-career scientists to collaborate on high-risk/potentially high-reward research.