Solar energy is considered by many to be the power source of the future, but there are still many hurdles to overcome before it can attempt that achievement. Among those are increasing its efficiency and making it more economical, as many of the most efficient photoelectric systems are also the most expensive. Researchers of Ben-Gurion University are trying to tackle those issues with their new side-illuminated concentrator solar cell.
A concentrator solar cell, as the name suggests, concentrates the light onto the photoelectric material to increase energy output. The researchers went a step further than that though by changing the orientation of the system, so the light enters the material from the side, which reduces resistance within the material to negligible levels. This enables the light intensity to reach as high as 10,000 times the ambient intensity of the sun. By also having multiple tiers of photoelectric materials, this new design should be able to surpass 40% efficiency, which is greater than the efficiency limit of traditional PN-junction solar cells.
Another benefit to the tiered system for the photoelectric materials involved is to simplify fabrication. Each tier is independent of the others, which should allow more common materials to be used in the solar cell, as opposed to those typically required for cells of this efficiency.