New ORNL solar cell technology cranks up efficiency

Because of efficient charge transport, the new solar cell can tolerate defective materials and reduce cost in fabricating next-generation solar cells.

Story content courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US

With the creation of a 3-D nanocone-based solar cell platform, a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jun Xu has boosted the light-to-power conversion efficiency of photovoltaics by nearly 80 percent.

"To solve the entrapment problems that reduce solar cell efficiency, we created a nanocone-based solar cell, invented methods to synthesize these cells and demonstrated improved charge collection efficiency," said Xu, a member of ORNL's Chemical Sciences Division.

Key features of the solar material include its unique electric field distribution that achieves efficient charge transport; the synthesis of nanocones using inexpensive proprietary methods; and the minimization of defects and voids in semiconductors. The latter provides enhanced electric and optical properties for conversion of solar photons to electricity.

The research was supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program and the Department of Energy's Office of Nonproliferation Research and Engineering.

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