January 12, 2009

Micro lenses boost plastic solar cells

Line up tiny lenses over holes in a mirror and you can boost the power output of inexpensive plastic solar cells.

The micro lens array-holey mirror arrangement traps reflected light that would otherwise escape the solar cell. The mirror is above the light-absorbing layer of the cell. The lenses channel sunlight through the holes to the absorbing layer. Light that bounces off the absorbing layer is reflected back by the mirror.

The light-trapping technique boosts output by as much as 25 percent for thin-film solar cells made from a mix of polymer and carbon buckyballs.

Thin-film solar cells, particularly polymer solar cells, have the potential to be much less expensive than traditional silicon solar cells but are also much less efficient. The cells need to be thin to generate enough electrical current, but this reduces the amount of light they absorb. Light-trapping techniques could make these plastic solar cells practical.

Research paper:
Trapping Light with Micro Lenses in Thin Film Organic Photovoltaic Cells
Optics Express, December 22, 2008

Researchers' homepages:
Bimolecular and Organic Electronics (Biorgel) research group, Linkopings University
Simone Dal Zilio
Massimo Tormen

Related stories and briefs:
Solar cells produce more on edge -- related research
Fine-tuned reflector ups solar cell output -- related research
Light trap boosts solar cells -- related research

Back to ERN January 12/19, 2009



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