A chemistry professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Xiaoyang Zhu, and his team have successfully discovered a method to increase conventional solar cells’ efficiency. Their research reveals that the number of electrons gathered from one photon of sunlight can be doubled using an organic plastic semiconductor material.
The maximum efficiency of the silicon solar cells used today is 31 %. But this discovery would benefit lowering the cost and trigger the efficiency of solar-to-electric power conversion to as high as around 66 %, said Zhu.
The research of Prof. Zhu and his team about hot electrons was published in Science magazine in 2010. Zhu says that the actual implementation based on that research technology is more challenging.
Prof. Zhu also added that studying and working more on the mechanism could increase efficiency. During the process of a photon producing a dark quantum “shadow state”, the two electrons can be captured and be used to generate more energy, said the professor.
Wai-Lun Chan, a postdoctoral fellow in Zhu’s group, led the research team with postdoctoral fellows Askat Jailaubekov, Manuel Ligges, Luis Miaja-Avila, and Loren Kaake. The National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy supported the research.