Researchers at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev (BGU) have developed a radically new design for a concentrator solar cell that, when irradiated from the side, generates solar conversion efficiencies that rival, and may eventually surpass, the most ultra-efficient photovoltaics.
According to a BGU statement, the new cell architecture – developed at the David Ben-Gurion National Solar Research Center – can exceed an ultra-efficient conversion efficiency by 40%.
The BGU invention demonstrates the distinctly new possibility of exploiting common materials, such as silicon, which has been previously deemed unsuitable under highly concentrated solar radiation.
Tailoring the cells to edge illumination reduces the cell's internal resistance to negligible levels, thus increasing the solar concentration levels at which cell efficiency peaks to up to 10,000 times ambient solar beam radiation, which is significantly higher than ever before.
The solar-cell (diagram courtesy of Ben-Gurion University)
"Typically a concentrator solar cell comprises interdependent stacked materials connected in series, with significant associated fabrication difficulties and efficiency limitations," Prof. Jeffrey Gordon, a member of the Department of Solar Energy and Environmental Physics at BGU’s Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, explained.
"Our new designs for concentrator photovoltaic cells comprise multiple tiers of semiconductor materials that are totally independent, and overcome numerous challenges in compiling the elements of even the most efficient solar cells," he added.
"Our future depends on the development of alternative energies, and BGU is leading the way in this field,” Doron Krakow, executive VP of American Associates at the Ben-Gurion University (AABGU), said. "Prof. Gordon and his colleagues in BGU’s Energy Initiative continue to bring new innovations that will impact our world for the better."
According to the university, the AABGU "plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision, creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe."