Red light from a laser pointer is converted into higher-energy yellow light as it passes through the liquid photochemical upconverter (Photo: University of Sydney)
University of Sydney researchers have developed a “photochemical upconversion” technique to increase the efficiency of solar cells (Photo: Noel McKeegan / Gizmag)
While the overall efficiency of conventional silicon solar cells has continued to improve in recent years, the technology faces a natural theoretical limit at around 33%. This is because the laws of physics prevent the cells from absorbing photons below a certain energy level, meaning that this low-energy light cannot be converted into electricity is simply lost. Now researchers have found a way join two energy-poor red photons to form a single energy-rich yellow photon, allowing the harvesting of this part of the spectrum currently unused by single p-n junction crystalline silicon solar cells, and potentially enabling a record-breaking efficiency of 40%.
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