Researchers claim potential improvement in solar cell efficiency

perovskite-solar-cell-silicon-tandem-photovoltaic-efficiency-MIT-Stanford-University-EDIWeekly

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University are reporting an advance in solar cell technology that could significantly improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells in harvesting the sun’s energy. The researchers reported in the journal Applied Physics Letters that their prototype solar cell has the potential to surpass 35 per cent efficiency. The current maximum efficiency for photovoltaic cells is around 25 per cent. The power efficiency is the percentage of sunlight’s energy that is converted to electricity. The solar-to-electricity conversion efficiency is the technical variable that most strongly influences silicon photovoltaic module costs, the researchers write.

The MIT cell is made with a layer of silicon, as is common in solar panels, but adds a transparent layer of perovskite, creating a tandem solar cell in which the two different layers absorb different portions of sunlight. Perovskite, the researchers say, absorbs higher-energy particles of sunlight. Unlike an earlier model, in which the two layers operated, and had to be wired, independently of each other, the new version operates like a single silicon cell, with a single electrical control circuit.

Increasing the power efficiency of the prototype remains the major challenge, as it is limited by the capacity of the lesser of the two layers. The proof-of-concept solar cell was able to achieve a power output of “about the same” as would be produced by a conventional solar cell, about 13.7 per cent. While this leaves much to be desired, the researchers say they have already identified ways of increasing that output to 30 per cent, and ultimately to 35 per cent.

Another major challenge lies in the perovskite itself, a crystalline organometal mineral that is abundant in geological deposits around the world, and can be produced inexpensively in the lab. A statement from MIT on the new work explains that the material degrades quickly in open air and must therefore be modified to improve its durability or encapsulated to prevent exposure to air. This must be done without adding to manufacturing costs or compromising performance.

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • Space X's Falcon Heavy could explode with the force of a nuclear weapon; over 1400 airline flights delayed by space launches in 2018
  • Pros and Cons of EDM: What is electrical discharge machining, and how does it work?
  • Ontario home builders don't like government's inclusionary zoning plan
  • Bombardier Challenger 350 set to fly with NetJets
  • NA clean energy goal of 50 per cent can't be met without nuclear, industry says
  • SWISS inaugurates commercial flights of Bombardier's CS100
  • Plastics use in cars to nearly double in four years: report
  • Industries, designers not doing enough to recycle metals: UN
  • Wind energy group says PC bill is misguided
  • $2 Billion expansion of Nova gas pipeline planned by TransCanada Corp to increase pipeline capacity
  • Ontario Local Food Bill hailed by farm/food groups
  • SPACE 1971 vs today: looking back on the anniversary of Apollo 14's landing on the moon; with new landings planned, how much have we advanced?
  • Bankrupt hockey skate manufacturer bought by Canadian investors
  • Canada could get 35 per cent of its power from wind with no disruption to existing grid: study
  • Canada-France space agencies test stratosphere balloon in Ontario
  • US moves to cut coal-fired emissions highlight rift with Canada
  • Ontario's food industry poised for growth
  • Agile robotic arm could catch space debris, falling humans
  • Oil production should grow 33 per cent in Canada by 2030, despite lower oilsands spending
  • CSeries engine problem just an oil seal leak: Pratt & Whitney
Scroll to Top