Solar material can heal imperfections by itself – ScienceDaily


A new study shows that a material that can be used in technologies like solar energy is self-healing.

The University of York’s results suggest that it might be possible to develop high-performance, self-healing materials that could reduce costs and improve scalability, researchers say.

The substance, called antimony selenide (Sb2Se3), is a solar absorber material that can be used to convert light energy into electricity.

Physics Professor Keith McKenna said, “The process by which this semiconducting material heals itself is more similar to how a salamander regrows limbs when severed. Antimony selenide repairs broken bonds that form when it is by forming new ones.

“This ability is as unusual in the material world as it is in the animal kingdom and has important implications for the application of these materials in optoelectronics and photochemistry.”

The paper discusses how broken bonds in many other semiconductor materials usually lead to poor performance. As an example, researchers cite another semiconductor called CdTe, which has to be chemically treated to fix the problem.

Professor McKenna added, “We have discovered that antimony selenide and the closely related material antimony sulfide are able to easily heal broken bonds on surfaces through structural reconstructions, thereby eliminating the problematic electronic states.

“Covalently bound semiconductors such as antimony selenide are widely used in electronics, photochemistry, photovoltaics and optoelectronics, for example solar panels and components for lighting and displays.

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