Solar cells are becoming increasingly efficient, but many still fail to make full use of the radiation that falls upon them. A new hybrid cell, however, converts unused light into heat to boost its efficiency by 20 percent.
Researchers have taken a conventional dye-sensitised solar cell and placed it upon a film of PEDOT — a conductive polymer that warms up when light shines upon it. Beneath that are a sheet of pyroelectric film and a thermoelectric device, both of which convert heat into electricity.
As a result, light that isn't absorbed by the solar cell is converted into electricity, too — providing a 20 per cent boost in efficiency. The idea of creating a hybrid solar cell like this isn't a new one, but the device in question manages to a voltage that's five times higher than other comparable hybrid systems.
The extra hardware required to create hybrid solar cells typically makes them prohibitively expensive, but such a significant bump in output may be enough to justify the extra costs.
Image by Michael Mazengarb under Creative Commons licence.