Scientists at Ohio State University, US developed the world’s first rechargeable solar battery. The study related to this was published in the Journal Nature Communications on 3 October 2014.
The developed solar battery is in fact a hybrid device that is party rechargeable battery and part solar cell. This battery unlike other batteries relies predominantly on oxygen from air and sunlight which flows in through a meshed solar panel fitted inside it.
Main components of the solar battery
The solar battery comprises of three electrodes instead of four electrodes which normally is required to connect a solar cell to a battery.
The first electrode is meshed solar panel is like a flexible fabric made of titanium gauze upon which vertical rods of titanium oxide like blades of grass are placed. The second electrode is thin sheet of carbon and the third electrode is a lithium plate.
Between the electrodes, a layer of iodide electrolyte is sandwiched that carries electrons, and transports them between the battery electrode and the mesh solar panel.
How the solar battery works
First the mesh solar panel receives the oxygen from air and sunlight wherein the titanium gauze enables the air to pass through while the rods capture the sunlight.
During charging, as the light hits the mesh solar panel, it creates electrons which chemically decompose lithium peroxide into lithium ions and oxygen. Thereupon, the oxygen is released into the air, and the lithium ions that carry the charged electrons get stored in the battery as lithium metal.
Once the battery begins to discharge, it chemically consumes oxygen from the air to re-form the lithium peroxide and gives off energy used to power and mobile device.
In short, the battery uses air as a catalyst akin to the processes of energy conversion. In the words of Yiying Wu, the lead researcher of the study, “Basically it's a breathing battery. It breathes in air when it discharges, and breathes out when it charges."
The benefits of Solar battery
When: 3 October 2014