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Solar cell breakthrough

Professor Tim Schmidt from the University of Sydney along with Dr Klaus Lips from the Helmholtz Centre for Materials and Energy have developed improvements to solar cells that may see rooftop solar panels increase efficiency levels to 40%. This process, called photochemical upconversion allows energy, which is normally lost in solar cells, to be turned into electricity.

The process of ‘upconversion’ is a process which harvests the part of the solar spectrum currently unused by solar cells and therefore eliminates the need for redevelopment of solar cells that are very costly. This solar cell breakthrough could potentially boost the efficiency of solar cells significantly, while dramatically reducing the costs of solar panels on rooftops.

As mentioned by Professor Schmidt, the efficiency of the solar panels is able to be boosted by “forcing two energy-poor red photons in the cell to join and make one energy-rich yellow photon that can capture light, which is then turned into electricity.”

The research, costing just over $2 million is being supported by the Australian Solar Institute. However despite this amazing breakthrough there is still much room for development and commercialisation of this new technique may not be available for another 5 years.  

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