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Source: Pixabay

This Single Sunscreen Ingredient Could Greatly Improve Solar Panels

By Brian Spaen

As the summer rolls around, many Americans are reaching for the suntan lotion as they prepare to spend heaps of time outside at baseball games, parks, and at the pool. Sunblock has zinc oxide, an ingredient that’s also used in other products to treat rashes, skin irritation, chapped skin, and burns. Another useful component is that it can be a semiconductor that generates solar electricity.

Zinc oxide is a handy substance that’s used in a wide variety of things such as rubber, lubricants, paint, adhesives, even food. It’s used in a lot of objects because it’s extremely inexpensive and easy to work with. A common misconception of the ingredient is that it gives lotions and protective sunglasses the ability to block or reflect ultraviolet radiation. Actually, organic sunscreens absorb that UV radiation and turns it into disposable heat.

This allowed physicists at Concordia University in Montreal to create a semiconductor out of zinc oxide. Their report unveils that this substance forms nanorods that can transport electricity, but it needs to be scattered in a specific pattern to do that. That used to be expensive to achieve, but that is no longer that case.