New quantum well solar cell sets world efficiency record

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists continue to improve the efficiency of solar panels higher and higher, and there is a new record: a new solar cell has achieved an efficiency of 39.5% under standard global illumination conditions of 1 sun.

This single-sun marker is simply a standardized way of measuring a fixed amount of sunlight, and nearly 40 percent of that radiation can now be converted into electricity. The previous record for this type of solar panel material was 39.2%.

There are more types of solar cells than you might imagine. The type used here, triple junction III-V tandem solar cells, is often used in satellites and spacecraft, although they have great potential here on a solid surface.

“The new cell is more efficient and has a simpler design that could be useful for a variety of new applications, such as very limited area applications or low-radiation space applications,” says physicist Miles Steiner of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado. /p>

The triple part of the equation is important in terms of solar array efficiency. Each compound concentrates on a specific portion of the solar spectrum, meaning less light is lost and left unused.

Further efficiency gains have been achieved through the use of so-called “quantum well” technologies. The physics behind them is quite complex, but the general idea is that materials are carefully chosen and optimized, and made as thin as possible.

This affects the band gap, the minimum amount of energy needed to excite electrons and allow current to flow.

In this case, the three junctions are composed of gallium indium phosphide (GaInP) and gallium arsenide (GaAs). with the addition of some additional quantum wells and indium gallium arsenide (GaInAs).

“The key element is that although GaAs is an excellent material and is commonly used in multi-junction III-V cells, it does not have a sufficiently correct band gap for a three-junction cell, meaning that the balance of photocurrents between the three cells is not optimal.” says physicist Ryan France of NREL.

“Here we have changed the band gap while maintaining the superior material quality through the use of quantum wells, allowing this device and possibly other applications to be used.”

Some of the improvements added to this last cell include an increase in the amount of light absorbed without a corresponding loss in voltage. Several other technical changes were also made to minimize the restrictions.

This is the highest efficiency per 1 sun of any solar panel element ever recorded, although we have seen higher efficiency with more intense solar radiation. While it takes time for technology to evolve from a lab into real products, the potential improvements are impressive.

The elements also achieved an impressive 34.2% space efficiency. use in orbit. Their weight and resistance to high energy particles make them particularly suitable for this task.

“Because at the time of this writing these are solar cells with a maximum efficiency of 1 sun, they also set a new standard for the achievable efficiency of all photovoltaic technologies,” the researchers write in the published paper.


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