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What Do Teeth and Solar Cells Have in Common?

Gwen Smith, May 14, 2019. TechNetwork

Summarized by: Linda Zheng

It might be hard to imagine that teeth and recent solar cell developments have much in common. Fluoride has long been recommended by dentists and the ADA and has been to be effective in preventing tooth decay in children and adult. One way in which fluoride ions help in the remineralization of teeth is by forming a protective layer around the crystal, preventing the progression of enamel defects and caries. Solar cell researchers have discovered a new material, perovskite, which holds a huge potential in future green energy production. Perovskite is cheap, easily produced, and almost as efficient as the silicon solar cells that is traditionally used. The drawback is that perovskite decays rapidly and is unstable. Researchers in Eindhoven, Twente and Beijing have collaborated on a new variation of perovskite by adding fluoride ions, which has shown significant improvement in stability and a 90% efficiency retention after 1000 hours of intense light. One part of the explanation is attributed to the small size and high electronegativity of fluoride ions, which attract electrons from its neighboring ions. Much as fluoride helps the teeth the in the oral cavity, the fluoride adds a stable protective layer to the solar cells by forming strong bond with the elements in the perovskite compound.

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