An article in the Wall Street Journal today about a mineral called perovskite which is becoming of increasing interest in energy production because of its impressive performance when used in solar cells. Researchers have been able to increase efficiency of solar cells made with perovskite-based materials to levels close to the best silicon-base solar panels in a period of just two years.
From the article:
One advantage of perovskite is that it can be made of common metals and industrial chemicals, instead of the expensive raw materials used in other silicon substitutes. Also, perovskite-based materials could be used to print photovoltaic electronics directly onto glass or other materials, which would be cheaper than more-complex methods for producing thin-film solar cells.
Still, it’s early days for perovskite solar cells; it remains to be seen how well the material holds up over time, and how to protect them against moisture which reduces their effectiveness.
Perovskite is also being developed as a material for cheaper and more easily manufactured LEDs (see here)