Plastic semiconductor makes solar cells more efficient
Quantum ‘dark state’ helps capture wasted energy
It sounds paradoxical, but reducing the amount of energy captured in a silicon solar cell can make it more efficient, according to University of Texas researchers.
The research by chemist Xiaoyang Zhu addresses the problem of “hot electrons” – electrons created in a silicon solar cell that are too energetic to be useful and are released as heat.
Zhu claims that successfully capturing hot electrons could more than double the efficiency of solar panels, from today’s theoretical maximum of 31 percent to as much as 66 percent. More realistically, he says that a practical and affordable system could be built offering 44 percent efficiency.
Instead of allowing the hot electrons to be wasted, Zhu has found that a photon impinging on the solar panel produces what he calls a dark quantum “shadow state” from which a pair of electrons can be captured.
This is achieved using a layer of an organic plastic semiconductor called pentacene. When a photon strikes the pentacene, it produces an exciton – an excited electron-hole pair (“holes” are an oddity in the world of semiconductors; think of “a place where an electron should be but isn’t” for now, because a long explanation would take ages).
The exciton produced in this fashion has a quantum coupling to the dark “shadow state”, called a multiexciton, the source of two electrons that aren’t too hot to capture. And because pentacene is not a particularly exotic material, Zhu’s breakthrough should be cheap to implement as well. ®
I'm pretty sure a 50% increase is actually an 18oz steak instead of a 12oz steak. Being a curious soul I slapped 12 + 50% in to google to see what the top hit was assuming you had found your percentage calculation formula that way and was briefly astonished to see it tell me I was wrong and you were right.
A second glance showed that Google calculator is treating a 50% value as 0.5, presumably so you can say 12oz * 150% to calculate a 50% increase using the method taught to most school children.
I hope you haven't been using Google calculator for anything important; tax returns, employee salary calculations or the effectiveness of your herbal enlargment pills for example.
Don't be jealous of people with their own roof. I don't have one either, but this is, or could be, a quantum leap in PV development. A 50% increase in efficiency is not something to be sniffed at.
Hope it can be cheaply implemented as soon as possible...
Memo for patent trolls
This is patentable. It applies to a field where people have been looking for improvements for many years, since they'd have considerable commercial value. It uses no newly discovered materials, so it *could* have been discovered many years ago. It is therefore both novel and demonstrably "non-obvious to those skilled in the art".
BT, Apple and co. take note. This is what a truly patentable idea looks like. Study it closely. Learn, and then stop trying to patent "waiting for the cheap one to come back" and "child-proofing corners", both of which have been obvious (and practised) for the last few thousand years.