High power conversion of new solar cells that are thin, flexible, and transparent make them ideal for a wealth of new applications.
In a recent CFO - The Institute of Photonic Sciences study carried out in the group led by Prof. Jordi Martorell and published in Nature Photonics, researchers have fabricated semi-transparent Organic Photovoltaic (OPV) cells utilizing a light-trapping layered architecture to obtain an optimal light harvesting.
In general, solar cells achieve their maximum light to electricity conversion with opaque devices. When thinning the back metal electrode to just a few nanometers to turn opaque cells into semi-transparent ones, the device's capacity to collect sunlight is dramatically diminished. ICFO researchers implemented a semi-transparent cell incorporating a photonic crystal to trap near infrared and ultraviolet light while reaching a cell performance almost as good as its opaque counterpart. The combined high levels of efficiency and transparency make these cells an extremely competitive product for Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPVs). To reach the adequate architectural look, the color of the cells may be tuned by simply changing the layer configuration of the photonic crystal.
A recently approved European project entitled SOLPROCEL will allow a consortium of top European researchers and industries led by ICFO to boost the study of the capabilities of these cells, improving their stability and lifetimes as well as obtaining the material needed to substantially raise their efficiency.
Source and top image: CFO - The Institute of Photonic Sciences
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