Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tweaking Solar Cell Can Double its Efficiency

Doubling the amount of sunlight that a solar cell converts into electricity may be possible just by tweaking its tiny parts.

The technology can boost solar cell efficiency by a maximum of 45 percent, said Vladimir Mitin, professor of electrical engineering at the University at Buffalo who led the study.

He and his colleagues have shown that embedding charged quantum dots into photovoltaic cells can improve electrical output by enabling the cells to harvest infrared light, and by increasing the lifetime of photo-electrons.

The idea had been proposed 10 years ago but intensive efforts in this direction, until now, met with limited success, which the team from the university has overcome, the journal Nano Letters reports.

The team included Mitin, Andrei Sergeev and Nizami Vagidov, faculty members in electrical engineering department, besides Kitt Reinhardt of Air Force Office, nanofabrication expert Kimberly Sablon of US Army Research Lab, according to a statement.

Through the varsity's Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR), Mitin and colleagues have filed provisional patent applications to protect their technology.

"Clean technology will really benefit the region, the state, the country. With high-efficiency solar cells, consumers can save money and providers can have a smaller solar field that produces more energy," Mitin said.


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