Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory have created a new solar cell that can convert sunlight into electricity with a record-breaking efficiency of 39.5%. The solar cell uses a technology called quantum well and III-V materials to absorb different parts of the solar spectrum. This solar cell is simpler and more efficient, and may be useful in areas with limited space or in space applications. Although currently III-V cells are difficult to manufacture in mass, researchers at the NREL are working to reduce manufacturing costs in the near future along with using simpler solar cell designs like IMM cells in order to increase production of more efficient solar cells on a commercial level.
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Here are some key points:
Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory have developed a solar cell with an efficiency of 39.5% under 1-sun global illumination.
This is the highest efficiency solar cell of any type, measured using standard 1-sun conditions.
The solar cell is simpler and more efficient, and may be useful in areas with limited space or in space applications.
The new III-V cell was also tested for space applications, and came in at 34.2% for a beginning-of-life measurement.
The top junction of the cell is made of gallium indium phosphide, the middle of gallium arsenide with quantum wells, and the bottom of lattice-mismatched gallium indium arsenide.
III-V cells have been used to power applications such as space satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles, and other niche applications.
The scientists used quantum wells in the middle layer to extend the bandgap of the GaAs cell and increase the amount of light that the cell can absorb.
The improvement in efficiency followed research into “quantum well” solar cells, which utilize many very thin layers to modify solar cell properties.
How does this fit in the Hierarchy of Agency?
You are part of something Awesome! As it is important that we push ourselves for excellence, this encourages us to look at things that may have an incredible efficiency and potential impact from a technological innovation that can benefit individuals and society as whole. By developing and deploying advanced solar cell technology like 1-Sun Solar Cells, individuals can take more control over their energy usage and production, reducing their reliance on centralized power sources and potentially saving money in the process. At the same time, wider adoption of this technology can lead to significant reductions in carbon emissions, benefiting society and the environment as a whole.
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