Graded Bandgap Perovskite Solar Cells Set Efficiency Record

Solar cells made from perovskite can more efficiently turn sunlight into electricity employing a new method to sandwich two types of perovskite into a single photovoltaic cell. Perovskite solar cells are comprised of a blend of organic molecules and inorganic elements that together capture light and convert it into electricity, just like today’s more common silicon-based solar cells. Perovskite photovoltaic devices, however, can be made more easily and cheaply than silicon and on a flexible rather than rigid substrate. [Read More]

Nanowire Solar Cells grown on Graphene

New performance levels for arrays of nanowires from III-V materials directly grown on graphene have been reached by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Nanowire semiconductors hold great promise for applications involving light, like solar cells or lasers. New Solar Cell Architecture A recent paper from the researchers is the first report of a new solar cell architecture based on dense arrays of coaxial p-n junction InGaAs nanowires on InAs stems grown directly on graphene without any metal catalysts or lithographic patterning. [Read More]

Hydrogel Solar Cells Could be Self Healing

If you ever wondered how solar cells could repair themselves when their performance degrades, just look at the back of your hand or the closest leaf of a plant. Branching vascular channels which pass life-sustaining nutrients through our bodies and plant’s leaves were the inspiration for solar cells that can restore themselves economically and efficiently. Researchers from North Carolina State University recently showed that making solar cells with channels that imitate organic vascular systems can revive solar cells whose performance deteriorates due to degradation by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. [Read More]

Nanowires Could Increase Solar Cell Efficiency Limits

A single nanowire can concentrate the sunlight up to 15 times of the normal sun light intensity, researchers at the Niels Bohr Institut, Denmark and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, have shown. The surprising results have the potential for developing a new kind of highly efficient solar cell. Nanowires possess some distinctive physical light absorption properties. Because of these properties, the limit of how much energy from the sun’s rays we can use is higher than previously thought. [Read More]

Hyperbolic Metamaterial Waveguide for Rainbow Trapping

Buffalo University researchers have created an advanced waveguide which could lead to breakthroughs in stealth technology and solar energy. Their hyperbolic metamaterial waveguide is basically a sophisticated microchip made from alternating ultra-thin films of metal and semiconductors and/or insulators. The waveguide stops and eventually absorbs every light frequency, at somewhat different points in a vertical axis, to capture a rainbow of wavelengths. “Electromagnetic absorbers have been studied for many years, especially for military radar systems,” said Qiaoqiang Gan, PhD, an assistant professor at UB,. [Read More]

Triple Junction Solar Cell Proposal May Break 50% Efficiency

The world record for solar cell efficiency we wrote up last week may have competition soon. Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in association with Imperial College of London and MicroLink Devices, Inc, have proposed a triple-junction solar cell design. The cell has the potential to bust through the 50 percent conversion efficiency barrier, a present goal in multi-junction photovoltaics. “This research has produced a novel, realistically achievable, lattice-matched, multi-junction solar cell design with the potential to break the 50 percent power conversion efficiency mark under concentrated illumination,” said NRL research physicist Robert Walters, Ph. [Read More]

Multijunction Solar Cell Sets World Record for Efficiency

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have won an R&D 100 award from R&D Magazine for their world-record multijunction solar cell. The three-layered cell, dubbed the SJ3, converted 43.5% of the energy in sunlight into electrical energy. That rate has perked up demand for the cell for use in concentrator photovoltaic arrays for utility-scale energy production. In November 2012, the 43.5% efficiency record at 415 suns was exceeded, with 44% efficiency at 947 suns. [Read More]