Renewable energy is all the rage now a days and that is why scientists and engineers have ramped up their efforts to come up with better technologies that can make clean energy even more viable. One such step was taken by researchers of University of New South Wales who managed to develop a new solar cell with an efficiency that’s unheard of: this solar cell is capable of converting 34.5 of the energy into electricity.
What makes this solar cell such big news is the fact that it is able to accomplish this feat without the use of concentrators. Concentrators can be thought of as simple mirrors and as the name applies they concentrate the sunlight to a single solar cell. They not only increase the cost at the time of installation but also require a huge area to be installed. In fact, this very team of researchers achieved 40 percent efficiency back in 2014 by using concentrators. Now you can see why this solar cell is much more impressive.
The solar cell which only measures 28 square centimeters or 11 square inches – has a prism like structure on top which splits the incoming light into four different bands. Depending on the wavelength of the band, each band is directed towards different layer or “junction” which are made of the following materials: silicon, indium-gallium-phosphide, indium-gallium-arsenide and germanium. This is done so that the maximum energy can be extracted at each junction by using the material that’s best suited for it. A pictorial representation of the whole process can be seen in the picture below:
The advancements in the field of photovoltics are far from over. These advances are the only way that clean energy can be brought to more people around the globe at a cheaper rate. — researcher Mark Keevers.
While this solar cell is brilliant news and the team plans to increase its size to 800 square centimeters in near future,
you shouldn’t really expect it to be installed in your home any time soon. They are quite expensive to manufacture and maintain. However, they are perfect for large solar power plants which don’t have any such restrictions. One way or another, solar energy is about to get a whole lot cheaper and more accessible.