New photo-rechargeable zinc-ion devices have removed the need for a solar panel

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Built Structure On Field By Buildings Against Sky with a solar panel

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Without the need for a solar panel, these stable zinc batteries could be a lifeline for off-grid homes

Scientists have made a battery that can be directly charged in sunlight without needing an external solar panel. Clever design of the battery electrodes facilitates photo-rechargeable zinc-ion batteries that could find applications as cheap devices for off-grid solar farms.

Solar energy is often stored in rechargeable batteries for later use. Currently, this process requires separate solar cells to harvest the energy and batteries to store it. A team from the University of Cambridge has engineered a battery cathode that can take the place of the solar cell and recharge the battery without requiring an external energy harvester.

The team used Zn-ion batteries as an alternative to Li-ion batteries. While Zn-ion batteries have a lower energy density, they are more stable than their Li-based counterparts, can work using aqueous electrolytes and are considerably cheaper, making them ideal for use in off-grid applications for rural communities.

Read the full story in Chemistry World