July 27 (Solar) – Scientists from the University of Exeter have developed a method that has the potential to harvest three times more photovoltaic (PV) energy compared with traditional systems by funnelling the energy more efficiently, the university said on Wednesday.
The technique "funnels" the sun's energy directly into power cells, such as solar panels or batteries. "The idea is similar to pouring a liquid into a container, as we all know it is much more efficient if we use a funnel," said Adolfo De Sanctis, lead author of the paper. "However, such charge funnels cannot be realised with conventional semiconductors and only the recent discovery of atomically thin materials has enabled this discovery," De Sanctis added.
According to the researchers, the innovation could lead to solar panels that have the size of a book and can power a family-sized house.
The announcement says that the new technique has the potential to convert around 60% of the sun's energy into electricity, compared to around 20% for the current solar cells.
The scientists devised a method to "funnel" electrical charge onto a chip. They used the atomically thin semiconductor hafnium disulphide (HfS2), oxidized with a high-intensity UV laser, to engineer an electric field that funnels electrical charges to a specific area of the chip, where they can be more easily extracted.