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Turbo Solar

New Technique Boosts Solar Efficiency to 40%

Written by Stephanie Ginter
Posted April 19, 2012

Researchers at Sydney University and Germany's Helmholtz Centre for Materials and Energy have discovered how to capture more energy from photons, a scientific breakthrough capable of transforming the solar energy sector.

The low-cost method of upconverting solar cells boosts solar cell efficiency, increasing its viability as an alternative energy source.

Tim Schmidt, chemistry professor at the University of Sydney, and his German partners have developed a “turbo engine for solar cells” that could boost energy output of solar cells to 40 percent.

Using an upconversion technique, Australian and German solar researchers have allowed energy that is normally lost or unused by solar cells to be turned into electricity, eliminating the need for costly redevelopment of solar cells.

While the process is still in its early stages and will need to be improved upon, the team asserts the upconversion technique of a solar cell is a relatively low-cost approach that could boost the theoretical efficiency limit, known as the Shockley-Queisser Limit, as high as 43 percent.

Today's commercial cells operate at around 22 percent efficiency.

Mark Twidell, Executive Director at the Australian Solar Institute, claims the tremendous breakthrough discovered through Australia and Germany's successful collaboration will “accelerate the pace of commercialization of solar technologies and drive down the cost of solar electricity”.

That's all for now,

Stephanie


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