Credit: Con Edison
Solar cells are a key feature of creating a sustainable energy ecosystem for the future. Existing solar arrays and cells can produce clean energy from the most abundant source in nature. But increasing their efficiencies while lowering cost to replace coal and gas as energy sources still requires technological advancements — advancements that we need sooner rather than later.
Now, a team of researchers led by Eray Aydil in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department is tackling one facet of solar cells’ inefficiency — the nature of light itself.
The issue with silicon solar cells is that they are not the best match for the solar spectrum. Only certain wavelengths can be efficiently utilized with existing cells. For example, ultraviolet and blue light aren’t converted to electrical power as well as infrared light. This means that a great deal of the potential energy that could be captured is wasted.
The solution Tandon researchers came up with involved, essentially, “Changing the sun,” according to Aydil. They developed a film that can be used in the solar cells to shift the light spectrum, turning ultraviolet and blue light (from the less efficient band of the spectrum) into near-infrared light (the more efficient source for solar cells).
Changing the light spectrum has other benefits to the cells. UV rays can cause the cells to degrade more quickly, which would require them to be replaced more frequently, increasing the cost of electricity. UV rays can also cause overheating due to the excess energy they carry, decreasing their efficiency and contributing to their premature degradation. By shifting these rays into the near-infrared part of the spectrum, the new film can solve multiple issues with a single fix.
Trying to increase the efficiency of solar cells by changing the light spectrum has been a goal of many researchers. The problem is that it can’t really be done through small steps. Shifting 10 percent of the light doesn’t do much. And previous advances fell short of 30 percent. But in a recent paper, Aydil’s team was able to push it to over 82 percent. And an upcoming paper will reveal that they are up to 95 percent. There is a potential to push it past 100 percent too — on this track, it would be possible to get two infrared photons out of every ultraviolet photon.
The team is looking forward to getting the material into a solar cell to see exactly how much extra efficiency the material will provide.
The film has one more very promising advantage — it’s the only material of its kind that doesn’t use lead. Lead is a dangerous chemical to work with, and mining it can be an environmental disaster itself. And if it somehow makes its way into the environment, cleanup becomes a headache. Removing lead from the equation makes producing and installing their film much more attractive to manufacturers.
Aydil and his team are working to break that 100 percent barrier and push this material to its theoretical limits. As is, it’s a bright spot in the fight to move towards renewables for humanity’s energy needs
Original Article: Tandon researchers “shift the sun” to improve solar cells
More from: NYU Tandon School of Engineering
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Solar cell efficiency
- U.S. Department of Energy launches new solar research group
This is a $20 million initiative designed to make cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells less expensive, more efficient and develop new markets for solar cell products.
- DOE launches CdTe solar cell group along with First Solar
DOE said that CdTe solar cells were first developed in the United States and are the second-most common photovoltaic technology in the world after silicon. It said that without strengthened domestic ...
- Solar is the cheapest power, and a literal light-bulb moment showed us we can cut costs and emissions even further
Recent extreme weather events have underscored the need to cut the CO₂ emissions that are driving up global temperatures. This requires a rapid transition of the energy economy to renewable energy ...
- Surface engineering for an 18.6% efficient large-area inverted perovskite solar cell
Scientists in China worked with nickel-oxide as a charge transport layer in a perovskite solar cell, and were able to overcome several of the performance challenges associated with this material ...
- Exploring the Future of PV — JA Solar’s n-type DeepBlue 4.0 X
Over the past decade, the growth of the global photovoltaics (PV) industry has been impressive, with significant technological developments made in both laboratory and industrial mass production. As ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Solar cell efficiency
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Light spectrum shifting film
- Explained: What is the Relationship Between Dumbledore and Grindelwald?
Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald have a tumultuous history together, and many fans are wondering what the nature of their relationship is.
- Engineers repurpose 19th-century photography technique to make stretchy, color-changing films
Imagine stretching a piece of film to reveal a hidden message. Or checking an arm band's color to gauge muscle mass. Or sporting a swimsuit that changes hue as you do laps. Such chameleon-like, ...
- Lawrence Kasdan, Dennis Muren, and Phil Tippett reflect on their favorite ILM effects in 'Light & Magic'
George Lucas' visual effects company, Industrial Light & Magic (or ILM) celebrated its 47th year creating practical and digital visual effects for film and television. The company was formed to create ...
- Solar Cells to Manipulate Sunshine For More Energy
Researchers have come up with a way to increase the efficiency of solar cells - by manipulating sunlight to generate more energy.
- ‘Aftershock’ Documentary Aims To Stop The Black Maternal Health Crisis And Shift Birthing Culture
Shawnee invited me to come film the event, and that set forth the trajectory of the rest of the film. Shawnee was truly our guiding light ... dignified care and full spectrum bodily autonomy ...