Solar Energy has become the definitive power source of the future, with multiple countries investing millions of dollars into it’s development. In order to make this technology as efficient and cost effective as possible, researchers across the world are working hard to create better photovoltaic cells.
Taking a giant leap in this research are the researchers at the University of New South Whales in Sydney, who have just created what are now being called the World’s Most Efficient Solar Cells.
These unique cells use a special multi-layered design to harvest an amazing 34.5% of the sun’s energy on their own, without the need of concentrators. This shatters the previous record of 24% without breaking a sweat.
In addition to the amazing efficiency, the solar cell is also quite compact, with just 28 sq cms (11 sq inch) surface area. This helps in increasing the output and lowering the cost further, as now more cells can be stacked together in less space than before.
In order to achieve this record setting feat, the cell splits the incoming beam of light into four bands. The infrared band is reflect back towards a silicon solar cell, while the other three bands travel through a three-layer setup made out of indium-gallium-phosphide; indium-gallium-arsenide; and germanium.
Each of the three layers absorbs the light individually and then passes it onto the next layer, ensuring that a the energy loss is a lot less than before.
Owing to this complicated design, the cells are unfortunately harder to maintain and more expensive than regular cells, therefore ruling out home use applications.
For now the team will focus on developing the technology for adoption at an industrial scale, to be used in mega solar power plants, which have the proper setup to properly utilize and maintain the panels.
Since this breakthrough came quite sooner than the theoretical deadlines set for it, we can afford to wait for the time when this technology becomes cheap enough to be utilized in our homes and offices as well.