MIT Research Could Dramatically Improve Solar Cell Efficiency
An artist’s rendering of the extraction of electrons from a solar cell during a photo incident. Researchers at MIT have proven that this occurrence can knock loose more than one electron -- achieving a singlet exciton fission process -- breaking the previous limit and paving the way to improve the efficiency of solar cells beyond the current 34 percent theoretical limit. (Source: MIT/Christine Daniloff)
Elizabeth, well this is something. I think the headline on the article overstates the potential. It looks like a 9% increase in electron production. This is good, but not the quite as amazing as I thought when I read the title.
Agreed. Many titles here use hyperbole. Words like dramatically or "best...ever" can create high expectations. The researchers are very excited about it. As I always say, I'd like to see more analysis on the site.
This is moving in the right direction. Let's see where it goes.
Thanks for covering this, Elizabeth. Sounds like an important step forward for solar power. I'm not clear how the increase from 25 to 30 percent efficiency qualifies as "huge," but if efficiency could be pushed even further, beyond 30 percent as the article mentions, that's significant.
My guess is that the big difference between 25 and 30 percent will be the cost? Right now the threshold of pain for panel efficiency is about 15%. Yes, you can get a 25% panel, but the cost begins to rise sharply. Maybe the new material will allow for a cost-effective 30% panel.
Thanks for the the informative article Elizabeth. I think it is a huge discovery and a big advancement. And it can further lead to more research in this area, because the results from this experiment are very positive. But still the change in percentage from 25% to around 30% efficiency is not that huge to cause a big difference.
Electricity produced from solar energy is still not comparable to that produced from other resources like hydropower and batteries etc. For example, one cannot run high load house appliances like air conditioner, referigerator etc from solar cells. So still there is a long way to go. Nonetheless, a great acheivement for future research.
This is one area of research that I believe is eventually going to pay off significantly in terms of conserving natural energy resources.The efficiency gains may not be huge for now, but it's a step in the right direction. Ultimately, it's bringing us closer to an eco-friendly environment.
While I'm no Physicist or Chemist, I'm having a hard time understanding 1.09 electrons per photon.
Putting that aside, it was 1983 when I wrote my Thesis for my Bachelor's degree on the topic of Photovoltaic cell manufacturing. At the time, the exchange elements being used were Boron and Silicone, and the energy efficiency yield was generally accepted to be at about 10%.
So, today, 30 years later, its now 30%, and MIT considers this a breakthrough. Seems like an average efficiency improvement of about 1% per year. ( * sigh * ) It's a long, slow road, but I guess it's still progress.
Agree, Lou, perhaps the headline should have been changed during editing before the story was posted. But I think the idea is this potentially could set a precedent for the future development of solar cells in a way that's very different from what's happening now, so in some ways I guess the case could be made for a "dramatic" improvement. Point taken, though.
Pentacene, this compound, which is a purple powder, slowly degrades upon exposure to air and light. This is greath ideea to improve overall solar cells effciency but is just a research result. I hope it will find a way (somehow) to production or will trigger additional ideeas in this direction....
Researchers have been working on a number of alternative chemistries to lithium-ion for next-gen batteries, silicon-air among them. However, while the technology has been viewed as promising and cost-effective, to date researchers haven’t managed to develop a battery of this chemistry with a viable running time -- until now.
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