What is it about?

All solar cells are based on electronic charges. However, electron also has a spin property that may lead to a new type of solar cell family. For that, widely available earth-abundant ferromagnetic materials like iron and nickel may be used. Solar cells using electron spin property and utilizing iron and nickel like metals may be extremely cheap and recyclable.

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Why is it important?

This paper show the realization of the electronic spin-based solar cell effect. This solar cell effect was observed on a magnetic tunnel junction based molecular spintronics device that mainly employed NiFe alloy. If large scale solar cells are produced using this approach, a new family of solar cells will evolve.


During the fabrication of magnetic tunnel junction based molecular spintronics devices a solar cell effect was observed. This effect was sensitive towards temperature, magnetic field, light intensity and the structure of the device. This observation was only observed with ferromagnetic metal films that are strongly connected by paramagnetic molecules. According to the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on the spin-based photovoltaic effect on magnetic tunnel junctions. Further confirmation and exploration by independent groups are in order to advance this spin-based solar cell effect field.

Director of Center for Nanotechnology Research and Education Pawan Tyagi
University of the District of Columbia

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This page is a summary of: Molecular spintronics devices exhibiting properties of a solar cell, Nanotechnology, September 2019, Institute of Physics Publishing, DOI: 10.1088/1361-6528/ab3ab0.
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