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Researchers have created a "solar battery" by combining the energy-harvesting panel with the energy-storing medium at a microscopic level. The device could change the way solar power is used, though it still has much to prove. Ohio State's Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, led the team that made the breakthrough, which was reported this week in Nature Communications. The panel, like any other solar cell, produces electrons when struck by sunlight. But then, instead of having those electrons piped to a separate battery unit and leaking as much as 20 percent of them in the process, they built the battery right into the panel. The solar-sensitive part is porous, and gives access to a battery layer that attaches and detaches oxygen from lithium ions to store energy. "Basically, it's a breathing battery," Wu explained in a news release. And, strangely enough, the panel is tuned to a certain wavelength of reddish light by using iron oxide as a dust — also known as rust. Combining the production and storage of solar power could potentially reduce costs and make solar-powered devices compact.
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