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Posted: Mar 25, 2014
Scientists develop silicon cells capable of absorbing infrared radiation from the sun (w/video)
(Nanowerk News) Researchers of the Universitat Politècnica de València, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC, in Spanish), the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya-BarcelonaTech (UPC) and the Universidad Rovira i Virgili de Tarragona have developed a silicon photovoltaic cell capable of turning infrared radiation into electricity.
The new silicon cell capable of absorbing the infrared radiation.
The sun is an inexhaustible source of energy and, if it were well-exploited, it could solve many energy problems today. The photovoltaic cell, commonly known as solar cell, is a device capable of turning solar light into electricity. However, there are many obstacles that prevent more frequent use of it, such as a relatively high cost (0.02 euros per watt generated) and low efficiency, less than 17 per cent. This means that, from each watt received from the sun, only a small portion can be used: 0,17 watts corresponding to the visible spectrum.
The low efficiency of conventional photovoltaic cells is due to the basic materials used to construct them, like silicon. They are cheap but they can only absorb and take advantage of a small part of the solar spectrum . The rest of the solar radiation from the infrared region cannot be used and is lost.
Research professor of the CSIC, Francisco Meseguer, explains that, “after three years of work, our research team has developed a new concept of silicon solar cells capable of absorbing infrared radiation from the sun and turning them into electricity.” Researcher of the CSIC and the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Moisés Garín, adds that, “what we have done is create photovoltaic cells on silicon micrometre scale sphere, where infrared light is trapped and spins until it is turned into electricity”.
This work is a new scientific approach to the development of high-performance photovoltaic cells in the future.