Scientists work to make solar panels more efficient » Yale Climate Connections

Perovskite tin solar cell (Photo credit: Oxford University Press Office / Flickr)

Installing more solar panels is one way of bringing more solar energy into the grid. Another option is to increase the power that each panel can produce.

The challenge for scientists is to develop solar cells that convert more sun rays into electricity without making the technology too expensive.

“We have to take into account that the costs do not explode if we want to improve the solar cell or increase its efficiency,” says Eike Köhnen from the Hemholtz Center for Materials and Energy in Berlin.

Last year, Köhnen and other researchers developed a prototype that set a new efficiency record for its class.

It stacks two cells on top of each other. One is made of silicon, which is commonly used in solar cells and which traps infrared light well. The second is made of an inexpensive material called perovskite that traps visible light.

“And since these two parts can be converted into electrical energy more efficiently than just an absorbing material, we can achieve higher levels of efficiency with these solar cells,” says Köhnen.

This means that they can generate more electricity with the same amount of solar radiation – and help bring more clean energy into the grid.

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Credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media.

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