University of Delaware Sets New Solar Efficiency Record

The University of Delaware has inched up the record for solar cell efficiency with a new device that can convert 42.8 percent of the light that strikes it into electricity.

That beats the old record of 40.7 percent hit in December. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has been funding research to get efficiency up to 50 percent.

The cell, created by Christina Honsberg and Allan Barnett of UD, splits incoming light into three buckets: high energy, low energy, and medium energy light. The light is then directed to different materials, which then extract electrons out of the photons that make up sunlight.

The device also has an optical concentrator, sort of like a lens that directs more sunlight to the solar cell than would occur naturally and thereby increasing efficiency.

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News source: News.com

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That'd be really useful here in the UK, where we see the sun shine
30 days of the year ;-) Shame someone can't come up with a way
of releasing the Hydrogen atoms from good old H20, then we'd
be "cooking on gas!"

I can't even believe no one so the fallacy of the statement " The light is then directed to different materials, which then extract electrons out of the photons that make up sunlight."

You don't extract the electrons out of the photons, it's impossible to do so. Photons are elementary particles like electrons but have zero mass. You use the energy of the photons to extract electrons out of the semiconductors they use. By bombarding the material with photons, you increase the energy level of the electrons and thus make them break out of their bond with the atom.

Journalism at its finest! Lol =)

let's not forget that making the silicon wafers needed for chips and solar cells places a heavy burden on the environment. It's not all sunshine (pun intented) people

XerXis said,
let's not forget that making the silicon wafers needed for chips and solar cells places a heavy burden on the environment. It's not all sunshine (pun intented) people

All methods produce something polution wise.... one of the reasons solar farms don't even use solar panels (they use mirrors instead and focus the light at a point on a tower) is to reduce that kind of polution

That's pretty cool. 2% may not seem like a lot, but if you scaled it up and replaced all of the solar panels today with these slightly more efficient ones, you could probably power an entire country with the extra power.

coolers still when you consider the majority of solar panels in use today are at absolute most close to 20% efficient, and probably far worse.

These ultra efficient panels are just not available for home use, or a flat out too expensive for them atm, the faster the technology improves and is adopted elsewhere though, the faster they should become generally available.