An Indian Berry Component Absorbs Much Sunlight, Could Lead To Production Of More Efficient Solar Panels

First Posted: May 03, 2017 05:20 AM EDT

The scientists discovered that a pigment that can be found in Indian berries known as jamun absorbs much sunlight. They theorized that this could generate solar panels and solve the power shortage in India.

The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Photovoltaics. The study was led by researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), according to Quartz.

Soumitra Satapathi, assistant professor at IIT-Roorkee, said that they were examining at why the jamuns are black. They extracted the pigment using ethanol and discovered anthocyanin, which was great in absorbing light.

The scientists are now examining the pigment referred to as anthocyanin. They think that this pigment could be utilized in the production of solar panel as well as bring down the costs of its production. This pigment can also be found in other berries such as raspberries, blueberries, cherries and cranberries.

They used the pigment as a photosensitizer for Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSCs) or also known as Gratzel cells, which are thin film solar cells that have titanium dioxide (YIO2) coated photoanode. This is a layer of molecules that attracts sunlight, according to Manorama Online.

Satapathi said that the dark color of jamun and its abundance on IIT campus have led to an idea that it might be useful as a dye in the typical Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSCs). She further said that natural pigments are way economical as likened to regular ruthenium-based pigments, and the researchers are augmenting to enhance the efficiency. She added that the escalating pressure on fossil fuels and concern of global warming has led to the continuous studies of alternative energy.

So, how do the researchers come up with the dye sensitizer? The team extracted dyes from jamun utilizing ethanol. They also included black currant and fresh plums together with mixed berry juices that have pigments that give characteristic color to jamun. Then, the mixture was centrifuged and decanted. The results showed an extracted colored pigment known as anthocyanin that was used as sensitizer. 

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