Japanese scientists have published a paper titled “High Efficiency Polymer Solar Cells With Small Photon Energy Loss” in the journal Nature Communications, detailing the latest discovery of a polymer material which achieves better solar energy conversion into electricity without loss.
Don't Miss: iPhone 8: Everything You Need to Know
Considering the background that industrialists are exploring alternative energy sources that are both cheap and environmental-friendly, the researchers developed solar cells made of polymer material which capture more solar energy without losing them – just as more expensive silicon material does.
Electrons implanted into solar cells capture solar energy or photons and then convert it into electricity current which can be used to power appliances and machinery. There is always a measure of energy lost when converting captured solar energy to electricity current, but it has been discovered that polymer materials lose more photon energy than their silicon-based counterparts.
"In polymer-based plastic solar cells, larger photon energy loss causes lower voltage. This has been one of the largest limiting factors for efficiency," noted Hideo Ohkita, one of the study authors. "The new polymer has the potential to lead to a breakthrough on this issue."
The research team experimented with oxygen instead of sulfur atoms, and found that the newly developed polymer material extracts and saves more solar energy than even silicon material does under the right conditions.
"Since this new polymer greatly reduces photon energy loss, it has allowed us to achieve a superb power conversion efficiency of nearly 9% with a very high open-circuit voltage in plastic solar cells," explained Itaru Osaka, one of the researchers.
The research team considers a 15% efficiency as a record rate that should enable polymer cells to be used for commercial solar products.
Osaka submitted that the ability of the team to obtain both high short-circuit current and high open-circuit voltage shows that they are able to achieve 15% power conversion efficiency when they set about it; and this should be a welcome development for the solar energy sector.