Hybrid Solar Cell Maximizes Capture Of The Sun’s Energy

Korean scientists have developed a hybrid solar cell that converts light and heat from the sun into electricity at five times the normal efficiency.

AsianScientist (Sep. 21, 2015) – Scientists have developed a new hybrid solar-energy system that harnesses the full spectrum of the sun’s radiation by pairing a photovoltaic cell with polymer films. The films convert the light that goes unused by the solar cell into heat and then converts the heat into electricity. The device, which produces a voltage more than five times higher than other hybrid systems, has been described in ACS Nano.

Solar cells today are getting better at converting sunlight to electricity, but commercial panels still harvest only part of the radiation they’re exposed to. Scientists are working to change this using various methods.

One approach is to hybridize solar cells with different materials to capture more of the sun’s energy. Professor Kim Eunkyoung and colleagues turned to a clear, conductive polymer known as PEDOT [poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)] to try to accomplish this.

The researchers layered a dye-sensitized solar cell on top of a PEDOT film, which heats up in response to light. Below that, they added a pyroelectric thin film and a thermoelectric device, both of which convert heat into electricity.

The efficiency of all components working together was more than 20 percent higher than the solar cell alone. With that boost, the system could operate an LED lamp and an electrochromic display.

The article can be found at: Park et al. (2015) Photothermally-Activated Pyroelectric Polymer Films for Harvesting of Solar Heat with a Hybrid Energy Cell Structure.


Source: American Chemical Society; Photo: Shutterstock.
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