Latest research paves way for inexpensive, high performance cells
Organic solar cells, a new class of solar cell that mimics the natural process of plant photosynthesis, could revolutionise renewable energy – but currently lack the efficiency to compete with the more costly commercial silicon cells.
At the moment, organic solar cells can achieve as much as 12 per cent efficiency in turning light into electricity, compared with 20 to 25 per cent for silicon-based cells.
Now, researchers have discovered that manipulating the ‘spin’ of electrons in these solar cells dramatically improves their performance, providing a vital breakthrough in the pursuit of cheap, high performing solar power technologies.
The study, by researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Washington, is published today in the journal Nature, and comes just days after scientists called on governments around the world to focus on solar energy with the same drive that put a man on the moon, calling for a “new Apollo mission to harness the sun’s power”.
Organic solar cells replicate photosynthesis using large, carbon-based molecules to harvest sunlight instead of the inorganic semiconductors used in commercial, silicon-based solar cells. These organic cells can be very thin, light and highly flexible, as well as printed from inks similar to newspapers – allowing for much faster and cheaper production processes than current solar cells.
But consistency has been a major issue. Scientists have, until now, struggled to understand why some of the molecules worked unexpectedly well, while others perform indifferently.
Researchers from Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory developed sensitive laser-based techniques to track the motion and interaction of electrons in these cells. To their surprise, the team found that the performance differences between materials could be attributed to the quantum property of ‘spin’.
‘Spin’ is a property of particles related to their angular momentum, with electrons coming in two flavours, ‘spin-up’ or ‘spin-down’. Electrons in solar cells can be lost through a process called ‘recombination’, where electrons lose their energy – or “excitation” state – and fall back into an empty state known as the “hole”.
Researchers found that by arranging the electrons ‘spin’ in a specific way, they can block the energy collapse from ‘recombination’ and increase current from the cell.
“This discovery is very exciting, as we can now harness spin physics to improve solar cells, something we had previously not thought possible. We should see new materials and solar cells that make use of this very soon” said Dr. Akshay Rao, a Research Fellow at the Cavendish Laboratory and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, who lead the study with colleagues Philip Chow and Dr. Simon Gélinas.
The Cambridge team believe that design concepts coming out of this work could help to close the gap between organic and silicon solar cells, bringing the large-scale deployment of solar cells closer to reality. In addition, some of these design concepts could also be applied to Organic Light Emitting diodes, a new and rapidly growing display technology, allowing for more efficient displays in cell phones and TVs.
The Latest Bing News on:
Solar cell breakthrough
- The most efficient solar panels in the world could be ready for 2021on October 8, 2020 at 9:20 pm
The race is on between Australian and British research teams to see which country can first release ground-breaking solar panels that can produce up to a third ...
- New solar panel design could lead to wider use of renewable energyon October 8, 2020 at 10:36 am
Researchers say the breakthrough could lead to the production of thinner ... investigated how different surface designs impacted on the absorption of sunlight in solar cells, which put together form ...
- SNew solar panel design could lead to wider use of renewable energyon October 8, 2020 at 7:58 am
Researchers say the breakthrough could lead to the production of thinner, lighter and more flexible solar panels that could be used to power more homes and be used in a wider range of products.
- Climate Saver Solutions Announces the Distribution of Its Climate Saver Air Conditioner/Heat Pump with Groundbreaking Green Technology, Propelling the HVAC Industry to the ...on October 8, 2020 at 7:51 am
Climate Saver Solutions begins distribution of its Climate Saver Heat Pump. Groundbreaking green technology dramatically reduces energy consumption.
- NITI Aayog, MNRE & Invest India hold symposium on Solar PV manufacturingon October 8, 2020 at 12:51 am
The event discussed the potential of making India a global hub for solar PV manufacturing with breakthrough technologies ... for manufacturing of solar cells, wafers and ingots.
- NITI Aayog, MNRE and Invest India hold symposium on solar PV manufacturingon October 7, 2020 at 4:46 am
In today technology news, we covered about the NITI Aayog, MNRE and Invest India hold symposium on solar PV manufacturing ...
- Aussie tech gurus driving local, low-cost solar panel breakthroughon October 4, 2020 at 5:00 pm
An Australian startup that developed breakthrough solar technology to ... a way to replace the silver used in conventional solar cells with copper, which is a cheaper metal. The project will ...
- ARENA unveils research boost for PV panel efficiency and flexible rooftop grid connectionson October 2, 2020 at 6:30 am
“Perovskite solar cells are really hitting their stride now,” professor Ho-Baillie said. “Apart from being cheap and easy to produce, these solar cells can be combined with the incumbent ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
Solar cell breakthrough
The Latest Bing News on:
- Solar power could be 'the new king' as global electricity demand growson October 13, 2020 at 10:38 am
Solar photovoltaic cells are now one of the cheapest sources of electricity in history thanks to maturing technologies and policies that have reduced the cost of investments, the Paris-based agency ...
- Solar panel mounting manufacturer Array Technologies increases deal size by 33% ahead of $900 million IPOon October 13, 2020 at 10:06 am
The article Solar panel mounting manufacturer Array Technologies increases deal size by 33% ahead of $900 million IPO originally appeared on IPO investment manager Renaissance Capital's web site ...
- SunPower Offers the Sizzle of Solar Power Without the Gristly Steakon October 13, 2020 at 10:03 am
Analysts are upgrading SPWR stock. But SunPower has gone from a domestic maker of solar panels to a financing and power sales company.More From InvestorPlace Forget The Election… Pick These Stocks for ...
- TOTAL & Google Cloud's Solar Mapper to Drive Solar Energy Useon October 13, 2020 at 8:50 am
TOTAL SE TOT and Alphabet’s GOOGL Google Cloud have developed a unique tool, Solar Mapper, which aims to accelerate the deployment of solar panels for individuals by providing an accurate and rapid ...
- EGEB: Solar, now cheaper than coal, will be ‘king’ of electricityon October 13, 2020 at 7:10 am
Solar is now cheaper than coal and natural gas in most countries; China’s net zero by 2060 plan covers all greenhouse gases, says a senior researcher.
- Google Cloud, Total Launch Tool To Increase Solar Panel Use In Houseson October 13, 2020 at 1:04 am
Total SE (NYSE: TOT) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) (NASDAQ: GOOG) subsidiary Google have jointly developed a tool that can help hasten the deployment of solar panels ...
- Why Solar Stocks Were Crushed on Mondayon October 12, 2020 at 5:10 pm
Shares of solar stocks were pummeled in trading Monday, as the solar industry got bad news from the White House. Shares of Sunrun (NASDAQ:RUN) were down as much as 11.3%, SunPower (NASDAQ:SPWR) fell ...
- Trump Pushes to Cut Solar-Tariff Loophole for Two-Sided Panelson October 12, 2020 at 10:14 am
Solar manufacturers and installers fell sharply Monday after President Donald Trump moved to eliminate a loophole his administration granted in 2019 that’s helped companies avoid tariffs on ...
- Big rig builder Scania puts solar panels on truck trailers to save fuelon October 12, 2020 at 4:57 am
Scania is one of the largest big rig makers in Europe and has announced a research partnership that will develop a trailer covered with solar panels designed to power a plug-in hybrid truck. The ...
- First Solar's Biggest Problem? Too Much Cashon October 11, 2020 at 10:48 am
But in the case of First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), that may be the case in 2020. First Solar has built one of the steadiest and most profitable businesses in the solar industry, and that has resulted in a ...