March 9, 2009

Light splitting boosts solar cells

Split sunlight with a color-separating mirror and you get more electricity out of the same light if you aim it at two different types of solar cells.

Split light with a low-cost dichroic mirror and aim the longer wavelength light at a commercial polycrystalline silicon solar cell and the shorter wavelength light at a custom gallium indium phosphide solar cell and you can convert 16.8 percent of the light to electricity. The silicon solar cell by itself is 11.1 percent efficient and the custom solar cell 12.3 percent efficient.

Replacing the custom solar cell with an inexpensive cell could improve the cost-effectiveness of general-purpose solar modules.

Research paper:
A Two Junction, Four Terminal Photovoltaic Device for Enhanced Light to Electric Power Conversion Using a Low-cost Dichroic Mirror
Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, published online February 24, 2009

Researchers' homepages:
Sven Rühle
Akiba Segal
Ayelet Vilan
Sarah R. Kurtz
Larissa Grinis
Arie Zaban
Igor Lubomirsky
David Cahen

Related stories and briefs:
Solar cells produce more on edge -- related research

Back to ERN March 9, 2009



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