NREL reports breakthrough in PV cell light harvesting yield

03. December 2010 | Research & Development | By:  Becky Stuart

A 35 percent increase in light harvesting yield in cells for photovoltaics and solar fuels could be achieved, following a breakthrough in the U.S.

solar cell

The breakthrough could yield better PV cell efficiencies. Image: Wikipedia/Tdangkhoa.

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the University of Colorado, Boulder, have reported the first designed molecular system, which produces two triplet states from an excited singlet state of a molecule, "with essentially perfect efficiency".

The NREL explains that through using a process called singlet fission, experiments demonstrated a 200 percent quantum yield for the creation of two triplets of the molecule 1,3-diphenylisobenzofuran (DPIBF) at low temperatures.

In a statement it says: "In singlet fission, a light-absorbing molecular chromophore shares its energy with a nearby non-excited neighboring molecule to yield a triplet excited state of each. If the two triplets behave independently, two electron-hole pairs can be generated for each photon absorbed in a solar cell. This process could subsequently increase by one third the conversion efficiency of solar photons into electricity or solar fuels."

The researchers say they identified DPIBF as a promising candidate while searching for molecular chromophores that have the required ratio of singlet and triplet energy states.

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