I caught the Golden Globes last weekend, and the Grammys and Oscars aren’t far off. But the best awards, in my humble opinion, are the 10 Breakthrough Technologies, MIT Technology Review’s list of the tech that’s changing our world.
This year’s list dropped on Monday, and I’m delighted to share that not one, not two, but three climate tech items are featured. So for the newsletter this week, let’s take a look at a few of these award-winning technologies you need to know about. (And to honor awards season, I’ll also be assigning them to bonus—and completely unofficial—categories.)
Super-efficient solar cells
Winner: Best Supporting Actor
Solar panels are among the most important, and perhaps the most recognizable, tools to address climate change. But one next-generation solar technology could help solar power get even more efficient, and cheaper: perovskite tandem solar cells.
Most solar cells use silicon to soak up sunlight and transform it into electricity. But other materials can do this job too, including perovskites, a class of crystalline materials. And because perovskites and silicon absorb different wavelengths of light, the two materials can be stacked like a sandwich to make one super-efficient cell.
Because of their outstanding support for traditional silicon solar materials, super-efficient perovskite tandem cells are my winner for this year’s Best Supporting Actor award.
There are definitely barriers to commercializing this technology: perovskites are tricky to manufacture and have historically degraded quickly outside in the elements. But some companies say they’re closer than ever to using the materials to transform commercial solar. Read more about the technology here.
Enhanced geothermal systems
Winner: Best New Artist