Physicists at North Carolina State say they’ve come up with a way
to drastically improve solar cell efficiency.
Most solar panels are actually composed of a bunch of photovolatic cells stacked on top of each other.
The problem is that a lot of energy gets lost when the electrons hit the connective or “junction cells” that sit between each photovoltaic cell.
The researchers found that by adding a thin film of gallium arsenide to the junction cells, they could practically eliminate voltage loss.
Gallium aresnide is naturally more resistant to heat.
The new design would address one of the biggest problems concentrated photovoltaic [CPV] solar cells face: once solar energy is intensified to the equivalent of 700 “suns,” the rate of energy dissipated begins to accelerate.
But the new design is capable of handling 70,000 suns without significant entropy.
“…That is more than sufficient for practical purposes, since concentrating lenses are unlikely to create more than 4,000 or 5,000 suns worth of energy,” lead researcher Dr. Salah Bedair said in a release. “This discovery means that solar cell manufacturers can now create stacked cells that can handle these high-intensity solar energies without losing voltage at the connecting junctions, thus potentially improving conversion efficiency.”
The only problem is that gallium arsenide is somewhat expensive.
That would be blunted, though, if the technology were to become more widespread.
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