New theory could lead to more efficient photovoltaic cells

Photovoltaic technology plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change, but the current conventional photovoltaic cells waste over 70% of the energy provided by the sun. To achieve sustainable technological progress, it is imperative to address this issue.

One critical factor affecting the efficiency of solar cells is their operational temperature. Extensive research has been conducted to understand the impact of temperature on photovoltaic efficiency. Surprisingly, the specific temperature at which solar cells operate remains largely unknown.

In a recent publication titled “Effect of maintaining a fixed ambient temperature on the evaluation of photovoltaic device performance” in Physical Review Applied, researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Solar Energy Research Center shed light on this matter by examining the balance between photon and energy rates in the photovoltaic effect.

Their novel approach considers temperature fluctuations resulting from the heat generated by light absorption and its connection to a fixed temperature environment. This differs from existing analyses, which assume that cell temperature remains fixed regardless of operational conditions.

Lead author Dr. Avi Niv emphasizes the importance of this article’s theoretical foundation for significant technological advancements. By uncovering hidden aspects of the photovoltaic effect, it paves the way for groundbreaking concepts such as thermoradiative and thermophotonic cells.

Thermoradiative and thermophotonic cells represent advanced forms of photovoltaic energy conversion. Thermoradiative cells facilitate the recovery of waste heat from industrial processes, while thermophotonic cells are more efficient in converting the sun’s radiative energy flux into electricity.

In conclusion, the study’s theoretical insights are crucial for driving technological progress. By understanding the intricate mechanisms underlying the photovoltaic effect, we can explore disruptive concepts and achieve greater efficiency in solar energy conversion.

Source: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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