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Australian scientists report breakthrough in solar cell efficiency

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April 18, 2012 – Comments (12)

This is awesome!

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Australian scientists report breakthrough in solar cell efficiency
April 18, 2012

http://phys.org/news/2012-04-australian-scientists-breakthrough-solar-cell.html

Low cost solar cells suitable for rooftop panels could reach a record-breaking 40 percent efficiency following an early stage breakthrough by a University of Sydney researcher and his German partners.

With Australian Solar Institute support, Professor Tim Schmidt from the University's School of Chemistry, together with the Helmholtz Centre for Materials and Energy, has developed a "turbo for solar cells", called photochemical upconversion that allows energy, normally lost in solar cells, to be turned into electricity.

The finding has been published in the Energy & Environmental Science journal.

Professor Tim Schmidt said using the upconversion technique, a process which harvests the part of the solar spectrum currently unused by solar cells, eliminates the need for costly redevelopment of solar cells.

"We are able to boost efficiency by forcing two energy-poor red photons in the cell to join and make one energy-rich yellow photon that can capture light, which is then turned into electricity," Professor Schmidt said.

"We now have a benchmark for the performance of an upconverting solar cell. We need to improve this several times, but the pathway is now clear."

Australian Solar Institute Executive Director Mark Twidell said this is a great example of successful collaboration between leading Australian and German solar researchers.

"Together, Australia and Germany can accelerate the pace of commercialisation of solar technologies and drive down the cost of solar electricity," Mr Twidell said.

"That's why the Australian Solar Institute is supporting collaboration between the two countries through the Australia-Germany Collaborative Solar Research and Development Program."

12 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On April 18, 2012 at 11:30 AM, leohaas (31.21) wrote:

Cool!

Or should that be 'hot'?

Any plans to commercialize this yet? How do I invest in this new technology?

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#2) On April 18, 2012 at 1:12 PM, traderbach (< 20) wrote:

Thanks for the good news Binve!

 You post some really interesting stuff.

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#3) On April 18, 2012 at 3:53 PM, binve (< 20) wrote:

leohaas ,

Any plans to commercialize this yet? How do I invest in this new technology?

Those are good questions, and I don't know the answer to either yet. But this is an exciting trend (even if it is a couple of years away from commercialization), because PVs continue to see improvements on the production side and we have been seeing some improvements on the efficiency side (not much, triple junction gallium arsenide used in space applications is about 24% efficient and many high end cells have hovered around the 20-25% efficiency for several years) but this would lead to a massive jump in efficiency (almost double the current commerical state of the art).

Doubling of efficiency + lower production/installion costs in the coming years will really increase PV competiveness. This is something I am very excited about.

traderbach .

Thanks!.

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#4) On April 18, 2012 at 4:45 PM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

---------------

29.02.2012

Photochemical Turbo Power for Solar Cells

How organic molecules make yellow light from red.

Modern silicon solar cells achieve a maximum efficiency of around 25 percent. Researchers around the world are running a race to increase this efficiency even further. However, a natural limit exists at around 30 percent because the laws of physics prevent solar cells from absorbing light of energies lower than a certain material-specific limit. The energy of this light is lost; it is not turned into electricity. Scientists at the University of Sydney and of Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin (HZB) have now demonstrated in lab experiments a way to avoid these losses.

They have developed a kind of “turbo for solar cells”, called photochemical upconversion: Two energy-poor photons that would normally be ineffective in the solar cell are merged into one energy-rich photon, which can then contribute towards the electricity yield. Further research in this direction may make it possible to exceed the 30 percent mark. The team has published its results in the journal “Energy & Environmental Science” (DOI: 10.1039/C2EE21136J).

...

---------------

portefeuille.

physicist, former resident of Berlin and former student at a school named after Helmholtz

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#5) On April 18, 2012 at 4:46 PM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_von_Helmholtz

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#6) On April 18, 2012 at 6:02 PM, binve (< 20) wrote:

portefeuille,

Exactly man, this is such a cool development.

From the link in the original post, the page leads you to this link in the Journal "Energy & Environmental Science" and leads you to this paper: http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2012/ee/c2ee21136j, which is the same DOI you reference.

We are discussing the same thing :).

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#7) On April 18, 2012 at 6:36 PM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

We are discussing the same thing

I just posted the press release by the German group. I looked it up to see where they reside.

The rally of the S&P 500 index is in decent shape again, it appears ...



enlarge

(from here)

 

and that trend channel and you predict business as usual for the next few months ...



enlarge

(from here)

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#8) On April 18, 2012 at 6:41 PM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

#7 Maybe it can even avoid the summer dip (tiny in 2009 and somewhat nastier in 2010 and 2011) ...

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#9) On April 18, 2012 at 6:56 PM, binve (< 20) wrote:

portefeuille ,

Maybe it can even avoid the summer dip

Yep, I agree. I think we have a mid/late spring dip that should be pretty mild and then a move to new recovery highs..

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#10) On April 20, 2012 at 12:14 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

Dye-based organic PVs could remove need for batteries

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#11) On April 20, 2012 at 8:34 AM, binve (< 20) wrote:

Cool, thanks porte!

The research into different substrates (traditional, flexible, 'print'able), different photon capturing materials (like dyes in your link, carbon nanotubes, silicon based / traditional, polymer-based / untraditional, etc.) and different production processes makes me believe we are going to have a technological revolution in this area in the next 5-10 years. Very exciting.

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#12) On April 23, 2012 at 1:35 PM, materialsman92 (36.27) wrote:

this is very interesting maybe one day we won't have to pay for electric bills :)

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