NREL Researchers Demonstrate External Quantum Efficiency Surpassing 100% in a Quantum Dot Solar Cell (Fact Sheet)

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A new device that produces and collects multiple electrons per photon could yield inexpensive, high-efficiency photovoltaics. A new device developed through research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reduces conventional losses in photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, potentially increasing the power conversion efficiency-but not the cost-of the solar cells. Solar cells convert optical energy from the sun into usable electricity; however, almost 50% of the incident energy is lost as heat with present-day technologies. High-efficiency, multi-junction cells reduce this heat loss, but their cost is significantly higher. NREL's new device uses excess energy in solar photons to create extra charges ... continued below

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Creator: Unknown. December 1, 2011.

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A new device that produces and collects multiple electrons per photon could yield inexpensive, high-efficiency photovoltaics. A new device developed through research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reduces conventional losses in photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, potentially increasing the power conversion efficiency-but not the cost-of the solar cells. Solar cells convert optical energy from the sun into usable electricity; however, almost 50% of the incident energy is lost as heat with present-day technologies. High-efficiency, multi-junction cells reduce this heat loss, but their cost is significantly higher. NREL's new device uses excess energy in solar photons to create extra charges rather than heat. This was achieved using 5-nanometer-diameter quantum dots of lead selenide (PbSe) tightly packed into a film. The researchers chemically treated the film, and then fabricated a device that yielded an external quantum efficiency (number of electrons produced per incident photon) exceeding 100%, a value beyond that of all current solar cells for any incident photon. Quantum dots are known to efficiently generate multiple excitons (a bound electron-hole pair) per absorbed high-energy photon, and this device definitively demonstrates the collection of multiple electrons per photon in a PV cell. The internal quantum efficiency corrects for photons that are not absorbed in the photoactive layer and shows that the PbSe film generates 30% to 40% more electrons in the high-energy spectral region than is possible with a conventional solar cell. While the unoptimized overall power conversion efficiency is still low (less than 5%), the results have important implications for PV because such high quantum efficiency can lead to more electrical current produced than possible using present technologies. Furthermore, this fabrication is also amenable to inexpensive, high-throughput roll-to-roll manufacturing.

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1 pg.

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  • Related Information: NREL Highlights, Science, NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

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  • Report No.: NREL/FS-5900-53258
  • Grant Number: AC36-08GO28308
  • DOI: 10.2172/1031982 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1031982
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc840981

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  • December 1, 2011

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • June 15, 2016, 3:58 p.m.

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NREL Researchers Demonstrate External Quantum Efficiency Surpassing 100% in a Quantum Dot Solar Cell (Fact Sheet), report, December 1, 2011; Golden, Colorado. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc840981/: accessed January 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.