Thursday, July 30, 2015

Solar Cells Could Capture Infrared Rays for More Power

Nanocrystals and organic materials convert low-energy photons into visible light that a solar cell can capture. Cadmium selenide nanocrystals with one kind of organic coating [left] produced violet light, while cadmium selenide nanocrystals with another type of organic coating [right] produced green. (Images Credit: Zhiyuan Huang/UC Riverside) Click to Enlarge.
Solar cell efficiencies could increase by 30 percent or more with new hybrid materials that make use of the infrared portion of the solar spectrum, researchers say.

Visible light accounts for under half of the solar energy that reaches Earth's surface.  Nearly all of the rest comes from infrared radiation.  However, solar infrared rays normally passes right through the photovoltaic materials that make up today's solar cells.

Now scientists at the University of California, Riverside, have created hybrid materials that can make use of solar infrared rays.  The energy from every two infrared rays they capture is combined or “upconverted” into a higher-energy photon that is readily absorbed by photovoltaic cells, generating electricity from light that would normally be wasted.
The scientists added that the ability to upconvert two low energy photons into one, high-energy photon has potential applications in biological imaging, high-density data storage, and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs).  They detailed their findings online July 10 in the journal Nano Letters.

Read more at Solar Cells Could Capture Infrared Rays for More Power

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