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Tofu Ingredient Could Lead to Cheaper Way of Making Solar Cells

What do solar panels and tofu have in common? Not much yet, but that could be about to change. U.K. scientists have found that magnesium chloride, a common chemical used as a bath salt and as a coagulant in the production of tofu, can replace cadmium chloride, a key component in the process used to make thin-film solar panels. While cadmium chloride works well, it's toxic and expensive. Physicist John Major, from the University of Liverpool's Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy, says magnesium chloride is a fraction of the cost of cadmium chloride and "completely non-toxic." While silicon photovoltaics currently dominate the market, Major says his teams' finding could help thin-film solar cells make significant inroads. The study was published online this week in the journal Nature.

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