is being buzzed about in nearly every city in the United States, not to mention worldwide, as solar energy leaders and scientists push to find more efficient solar utility methods every year. Down to their very molecular structures, scientists are looking at various components in natural metals in order to determine if a cheaper and more effective method of solar energy can be extracted using such materials.  

The latest material and its molecules to be examined for solar energy production is iron. Lund University in Sweden has been working on a solar energy project involving iron molecules and has since stumbled upon some impressive results thanks to their dedicated research. 

How Iron Benefits to Solar Energy  

Traditional solar cells are often made of various types of metals, sometimes referred to as metal complexes. These metal complexes within solar cells act to absorb solar energy rays, as well as utilize the energy stored. Metals such as iridium, osmium, and ruthenium, for example, are often used for solar cell production and while there is nothing inherently wrong with such metals for solar cells, they are fairly rare and also quite expensive. 

This is why the breakthrough with the iron molecule is so pertinent. Researchers at Lund University are hopeful that based on their findings, the iron molecule, in time, may be able to replace these more expensive metals currently used in solar cell production and other solar-based utilities.  

Professor of Chemistry, Kenneth Warnmark and his colleagues, have been studying various metals with the intent to replace the standard metals used for solar cell production for quite some time now. Warnmark stated in an interview with Solar Daily that the results of their research show that it will be possible to use iron to replace these more expensive metals, thanks to the advanced molecule design. Additionally, because iron is so common on Earth’s crust, access to the material for solar energy production will not only be far easier, but much more cost-effective compared to former metals typically favored for solar panels. In fact, in the Earth’s crust, iron has a six percent prevalence and is easy to obtain. 

Lasting Impacts by Bringing Iron into Solar Energy Production 

Researchers at Lund University are now moving forward with studies that will test the development of a new, iron-based molecule to be used for solar cells. Their primary focus has been and will be on optimizing the iron-based solar cells by working with the very molecular structure of iron atoms, according to Petter Persson, a fellow colleague on the project. 

This new innovation and the continued tests that will be performed to perfect the use of iron in solar cell production will likely have lasting impacts and contribute to the trend of decreasing costs for solar and renewable energy overall in the coming years. Lund researchers are encouraged overall that they have been able to achieve such tangible and important results so quickly through their exploration and use of iron molecules with the intent to improve solar energy cells. Within a span of just five years, the team at Lund was able to achieve the desired results they had originally set out for when examining the properties of iron molecules. Warnmark mentioned that he believed the entire process of achieving what they have thus far would have taken, “at least ten years.” Their findings offer a promising glimpse into the future of solar energy, as well as open the doors for new technology to be developed that can utilize similar techniques in the field of solar energy and otherwise. 

About Lund University 

Lund University was founded in Sweden in 1666. It is regarded as one of the world’s top universities, with around 7,400 staff members and over 40,000 students across their various campus locations. The university primarily advocates for understanding, explaining, and improving the human condition, with major focuses on economics, law, medicine, science, fine arts, humanities, and social sciences. Lund University is also home to two of the world’s most widely renowned research facilities, the MAX IV which was founded in 2016, and the ESS which will open for evolutionary neutron research in 2023. 

Resources 

https://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/about/about-lund-university 

http://www.solardaily.com/reports/Brilliant_iron_molecule_could_provide_cheaper_solar_energy_999.html 

 

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