Friday, April 23, 2004

Possible breakthrough for solar efficiency

Material grabs more sun TRN 042104
"The researchers were working on making a three-junction photovoltaic cell when they accidentally made a material that had a split bandgap. Once they realized the nature of the material, they reverse-engineered their inadvertent discovery to figure out how it happened.

The key turned out to be replacing some of the atoms of a material that is strongly electronegative with atoms of a material that is even more electronegative to create a highly mismatched alloy. The introduced atoms split the conduction band. "

The current cells, at best, will capture 25% of the sun's energy. This new material appears to have the potential for a 50% capture. The article says that it will take 3 years to see how well (or not) the new solar cell will work.