“This approach is capable of increasing the maximum efficiency to 42 percent, beyond any solar cell available today, which would be a pretty big deal,” says Stefan Wippermann. (Credit: Oregon Department of Transportation/Flickr)

Posted by Andy Fell-UC Davis on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 10:36

Exotic silicon maxes out solar cell efficiency

UC DAVIS (US) — Computer simulations show pressure-treating silicon could substantially improve the efficiency of solar cells.

Solar cells are based on the photoelectric effect: a photon, or particle of light, hits a silicon crystal and generates a negatively charged electron and a positively charged hole. Collecting those electron-hole pairs generates electric current.

Conventional solar cells generate one electron-hole pair per incoming photon, and have a theoretical maximum efficiency of 33 percent. One exciting new route to improved efficiency is to generate more than one electron-hole pair per photon, says Giulia Galli, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Davis and co-author of the paper.

“This approach is capable of increasing the maximum efficiency to 42 percent, beyond any solar cell available today, which would be a pretty big deal,” says Stefan Wippermann, lead author of the study published in Physical Review Letters.

“In fact, there is reason to believe that if parabolic mirrors are used to focus the sunlight on such a new-paradigm solar cell, its efficiency could reach as high as 70 percent,” Wippermann says.

Read more: Futurity.org – Exotic silicon maxes out solar cell efficiency.

Home           Top of page