A team of scientists at the University of Manchester has reportedly cracked a key defect in silicon solar cells after decades of research. The problem has been studied for over 40 years and over 270 research papers attributed to the issue with no solution.
A groundbreaking new study highlights a material defect in silicon used to produce solar cells that reportedly had gone undetected. The study states that the flaw could be responsible for the 2% efficiency drop that solar cells could see in the first hours of use – Light Induced Degradation (LID). And the estimated loss in efficiency worldwide from LID could equate to more energy that could be generated by the UK’s 15 nuclear power plants. The research has been published in the Journal of Applied Physics.
In the context, one of the researchers, Tony Peaker from the University of Manchester, UK stated that because of the environmental and financial impact solar panel ‘efficiency degradation’ had been the topic of scientific and engineering interest. He added that despite some of the best minds in the business working on the issue – the problem had resisted resolution.
The team working on this issue found that the defect lies dormant until the solar panel gets heated. In the context, one of the researchers, Iain Crowe from the University of Manchester stated that the flow of electrons is what determined the size of the electrical current that a solar cell could deliver to a circuit. And anything that impeded it effectively reduced the solar cell efficiency and amount of electrical power that could be generated for a given level of sunlight. He added that now the defect was found, an engineering fix was needed.
The work to augment solar panel efficiency rates continues, and now that the LID mystery has been solved, solar farms worldwide should benefit.