New Solar Cell Now Captures Entire Solar Energy Spectrum

New Solar Cell Now Captures Entire Solar Energy Spectrum

According to a new research carried out by a researcher from George Washington University, a new solar cell capable of capturing virtually the entire energy in the solar spectrum, has been invented.

This new solar cell integrates multiple cells loaded into a single device and has the potential of converting direct sunlight into electricity with an efficiency level of 44.5%. The device is not made up of the commonly used panels instead, it uses concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) panels with lenses that concentrate sunlight onto tiny, micro-scale solar cells.

Because of their small size — less than one millimeter square — solar cells that utilize more sophisticated materials can be developed cost effectively.

The study, GaSb-based Solar Cells for Full Solar Spectrum Energy Harvesting, was published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials in July 2017 explains that the cells in the panels act as sieves for absorbing sunlight. Each layer is made up of a specialized material to absorb the energy of specific wavelengths. While the light is being funneled through the stack, half the energy is meanwhile converted into electricity. The traditionally used solar panel only converts a quarter of the available energy into electricity.

Around 99% of the power of direct sunlight which reaches the earth’s surface falls between wavelengths of 250 nanometers and 2,500 nanometers and solar cells made up of conventional material cannot capture this entire spectral range. Whereas, the new device can unlock the energy stored in the long-wavelength photons, which are usually unattainable in conventional solar cells. These GaSb-based solar cells are stacked together enabling 3D assembly of the tiny particles with increased precision.

Even though this solar cell is expensive due to the current cost of the materials involved, scientists say the high efficacy makes this device very promising.

A similar product priced at lower rates could be brought into the market by creating a technology with very high solar concentration levels.

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