Graduate student Aaswath Raman, Associate Professor Shanhui Fan, and post doctoral fellow Zongfu Yu (Image: L.A. Cicero)
Schematic diagram of a thin film organic solar cell shows the top layer, a patterned, roughened scattering layer, in green, the organic thin film layer where light is trapped and electrical current is generated, in red, while the film that is sandwiched between two layers helps keep light contained within the thin film (Image: PNAS)
Research has already shown that at the nanoscale, chemistry is different and the same is apparently true for light, which Engineers at Stanford University say behaves differently at scales of around a nanometer. By creating solar cells thinner than the wavelengths of light the engineers say it is possible to trap the photons inside the solar cell for longer, increasing the chance they can get absorbed, thereby increasing the efficiency of the solar cell. In this way, they calculate that by properly configuring the thicknesses of several thin layers of films, an organic polymer thin film could absorb as much as 10 times more energy from sunlight than predicted by conventional theory.
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