Possibly Improving Solar Cells with New Theory

Guest_Jim_* - February 3, 2014 09:47AM in Science & Technology

To convert sunlight into electricity is not necessarily hard to do, but doing it efficiently can be very difficult. This is why researchers have been working to understand all of the mechanics involved in photovoltaics, especially those of organic semiconductors. Researchers at the University of Houston and University of Montreal have recently devised a new theory for what happens within organic solar cells, and it could potentially lead to breaking the SQ limit.

This new theory considers the quantum mechanical effects associated with the vibrational motion of molecule chains in a polymer and the electronic structure of the material. The vibrational-electron coupling could lead to some interesting effects, and if properly understood could even be exploited to optimize a solar cell's efficiency. It may even enable the SQ or Shockley-Queisser limit to be broken, and it is the theoretical limit on the efficiency of semiconductor-based solar cells.

The researchers next plan on working with those more familiar with producing polymers and solar cells, to put the theory to the test.

Source: University of Houston