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Fruit for the sky! Solar cells harness the power of berries

07 July 2022

Newcastle University is set to exhibit its pioneering Berry Solar Cells project at the Summer Science Exhibition 2022, which could replace batteries.

Berry Solar Cells are dye-sensitised cells which harness the power of existing and emerging technologies, these solar cells may be built using simple materials, such as iodine, berry juice and a few other ingredients that together mimic the process of photosynthesis.

Produced sustainably, Berry Solar Cells have the potential to replace batteries for certain applications, and therefore reduce our reliance on the mining of metals such as silicon, cobalt and lithium and the waste of resulting products.

Photovoltaics that operates efficiently under indoor lighting are of great practical interest as they offer huge potential to serve as power sources for portable electronic devices as part of wireless sensor networks, or the Internet of Things (IoT).

Inspiring the next generation of scientists
Project lead, Dr Marina Freitag, of Newcastle University's School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, said: “In my experience, schoolchildren are often fascinated by an activity that displays the conversion of light energy to electricity by powering a small wireless device (Internet of Things, IoT). This kind of experience will stimulate a student's interest and inspire them to pursue further studies in the fields of energy technology, chemistry, and computer science.

“The primary goal of this workshop is to ignite students' interest by visualising the conversion of sunshine, electricity, and energy, and to motivate them to explore sustainable technologies. As a result, the objective of this workshop is to provide an affordable solar cell assembly process and provide opportunities for students to study the mechanism of power generation via hands-on activities.”

For over three decades, the Royal Society has opened the doors to its building in central London and welcomed thousands of visitors to meet the researchers behind some of the leading science in the UK. As the oldest science festival in the UK, the Summer Science Exhibition is a member of the UK Science Festival Network.

Up to 500 researchers from across the country take part in the Summer Science Exhibition, talking to visitors about their work and demonstrating the scientific principles and discoveries with hands-on interactives and talks.

After two years of online activities, this year's Summer Science Exhibition will run again in person at Carlton House Terrace, from Wednesday 6 to Sunday 10 July. The Summer Science Exhibition is a free festival showcasing the science shaping our future. It is a celebration of the cutting-edge research being done right now across the UK and the researchers making that happen.

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