Solar panels capture more sunlight with capsaicin (the chemical that makes chili peppers spicy).
Researchers have found a secret ingredient for making solar panels that absorb the sun’s energy more efficiently. Depending on what you like to eat, there’s a good chance you can find it at home. Capsaicin, the chemical that gives chili peppers their spicy sting, also improves perovskite solar cells – the devices that make up solar panels.
Adding capsaicin expands the grains which make up the active material of the solar cell, allowing it to more effectively transport electricity. More importantly, the material goes from having a deficit of electrons to having an excess, changing how the cell operates and allowing more sunlight to be converted to electricity. In essence, adding capsaicin adds electrons, which may or may not be the same effect you experience on your tongue after a particularly spicy biryani.
The capsaicin-laced cells are among some of the most efficient that have been reported. Rather than a gimmick to grab headlines, adding this chemical from chili peppers may actually be a route to improving the performance of solar cells.