Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Photovoltaic array


Man’s harvesting of photovoltaic energy requires the deployment of extensive arrays of solar panels. To improve both the gathering of thermal and photovoltaic energy from the sun we have examined the concept of biomimicry in white butterflies of the family Pieridae. We tested the hypothesis that the V-shaped posture of basking white butterflies mimics the V-trough concentrator which is designed to increase solar input to photovoltaic cells. These solar concentrators improve harvesting efficiency but are both heavy and bulky, severely limiting their deployment. Here, we show that the attachment of butterfly wings to a solar cell increases its output power by 42.3%, proving that the wings are indeed highly reflective. Importantly, and relative to current concentrators, the wings improve the power to weight ratio of the overall structure 17-fold, vastly expanding their potential application. Moreover, a single mono-layer of scale cells removed from the butterflies' wings maintained this high reflectivity showing that a single layer of scale cell-like structures can also form a useful coating. As predicted, the wings increased the temperature of the butterflies' thorax dramatically, showing that the V-shaped basking posture of white butterflies has indeed evolved to increase the temperature of their flight muscles prior to take-off.

Concepts: Sun, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Lepidoptera, Photovoltaic module, Butterfly, Photovoltaic array, Pieridae


We demonstrate four- and two-terminal perovskite-perovskite tandem solar cells with ideally matched band gaps. We develop an infrared-absorbing 1.2-electron volt band-gap perovskite, FA0.75Cs0.25Sn0.5Pb0.5I3, that can deliver 14.8% efficiency. By combining this material with a wider-band gap FA0.83Cs0.17Pb(I0.5Br0.5)3 material, we achieve monolithic two-terminal tandem efficiencies of 17.0% with >1.65-volt open-circuit voltage. We also make mechanically stacked four-terminal tandem cells and obtain 20.3% efficiency. Notably, we find that our infrared-absorbing perovskite cells exhibit excellent thermal and atmospheric stability, not previously achieved for Sn-based perovskites. This device architecture and materials set will enable “all-perovskite” thin-film solar cells to reach the highest efficiencies in the long term at the lowest costs.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Direct current, Dye-sensitized solar cell, Thin film solar cell, Band gap, Photovoltaic array, Anwell Technologies Limited


The electrostatic alignment and directed assembly of semiconductor nanowires into macroscopic, centimeter-long yarns is demonstrated. Different morphologies can be produced, including longitudinally segmented/graded yarns or mixed composition fibers. Nanowire yarns display long range photoconductivities and open up exciting opportunities for potential use in future nanowire-based textiles or in solar photovoltaics.

Concepts: Energy, Nanowire, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Solar energy, Photovoltaic module, Photovoltaic array, Waldpolenz Solar Park


Quantum dot nanoscale semiconductor heterostructures (QDHs) are a class of materials potentially useful for integration into solar energy conversion devices. However, realizing the potential of these heterostructured systems requires the ability to identify and synthesize heterostructures with suitably designed materials, controlled size and morphology of each component, and structural control over their shared interface. In this review, we will present the case for the utility and advantages of chemically synthesized QDHs for solar energy conversion, beginning with an overview of various methods of heterostructured material synthesis and a survey of heretofore reported materials systems. The fundamental charge transfer properties of the resulting materials combinations and their basic design principles will be outlined. Finally, we will discuss representative solar photovoltaic and photoelectrochemical devices employing QDHs (including quantum dot sensitized solar cells, or QDSSCs) and examine how QDH synthesis and design impacts their performance.

Concepts: Energy, Sun, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Solar energy, Solar power, Photovoltaic array, Solar thermal energy


Recently, much effort has been devoted to improve the efficiency of organic photovoltaic solar cells based on blends of donors and acceptors molecules in bulk heterojunction architecture. One of the major losses in organic photovoltaic devices has been recombination of polaron pairs at the donor-acceptor domain interfaces. Here, we present a novel method to suppress polaron pair recombination at the donor-acceptor domain interfaces and thus improve the organic photovoltaic solar cell efficiency, by doping the device active layer with spin ½ radical galvinoxyl. At an optimal doping level of 3 wt%, the efficiency of a standard poly(3-hexylthiophene)/1-(3-(methoxycarbonyl)propyl)-1-1-phenyl)(6,6)C(61) solar cell improves by 18%. A spin-flip mechanism is proposed and supported by magneto-photocurrent measurements, as well as by density functional theory calculations in which polaron pair recombination rate is suppressed by resonant exchange interaction between the spin ½ radicals and charged acceptors, which convert the polaron pair spin state from singlet to triplet.

Concepts: DNA, Bacteria, Density functional theory, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Pauli exclusion principle, P-n junction, Photovoltaic array


The recent stunning rise in power conversion efficiencies (PCEs) of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) has triggered worldwide intense research. However, high PCE values have often been reached with poor stability at an illuminated area of typically less than 0.1 cm(2). We used heavily doped inorganic charge extraction layers in planar PSCs to achieve very rapid carrier extraction even with 10-20 nm thick layers avoiding pinholes and eliminating local structural defects over large areas. This robust inorganic nature allowed for the fabrication of PSCs with an aperture area >1 cm(2) showing a power conversion efficiency (PCE) >15% certified by an accredited photovoltaic calibration laboratory. Hysteresis in the current-voltage characteristics was eliminated; the PSCs were stable: >90% of the initial PCE remained after 1000 hours light soaking.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Photovoltaic module, Robust statistics, P-n junction, Photovoltaic array


Organometal halide perovskite-based solar cells have recently realized large conversion efficiency over 15% showing great promise for a new large scale cost-competitive photovoltaic technology. Using impedance spectroscopy measurements we are able to separate the physical parameters of carrier transport and recombination in working devices of the two principal morphologies and compositions of perovskite solar cells, viz. compact thin film of CH3NH3PbI3-xClx and CH3NH3PbI3 infiltrated on nanostructured TiO2. The results show nearly identical spectral characteristics indicating a unique photovoltaic operating mechanism that provides long diffusion lengths (1 m). Carrier conductivity in both devices is closely matched, so that the most significant differences in performance are attributed to recombination rates. These results highlight the central role of the CH3NH3PbX3 semiconductor absorber in carrier collection and provide a new tool for improved optimization of perovskite solar cells. We report for the first time a measurement of the diffusion length in a nanostructured perovskite solar cell.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Germanium, Photovoltaic module, Band gap, Photovoltaic array, Solar cells, Solar tracker


Power conversion efficiencies in excess of 7 % have been achieved with bulk heterojunction (BHJ)-type organic solar cells using two components: p- and n-doped materials. The energy level and absorption profile of the active layer can be tuned by introduction of an additional component. Careful design of the additional component is required to achieve optimal panchromatic absorption, suitable energy-level offset, balanced electron and hole mobility, and good light-harvesting efficiency. This article reviews the recent progress on ternary organic photovoltaic systems, including polymer/small molecule/functional fullerene, polymer/polymer/functional fullerene, small molecule/small molecule/functional fullerene, polymer/functional fullerene I/functional fullerene II, and polymer/quantum dot or metal/functional fullerene systems.

Concepts: Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Organic solar cell, Energy conversion, Photovoltaic module, Photovoltaic array, Organic electronics, Solar tracker


Organo-lead halide perovskites have attracted much attention for solar cell applications due to their unique optical and electrical properties. With either low-temperature solution processing or vacuum evaporation, the overall conversion efficiencies of perovskite solar cells with organic hole-transporting material were quickly improved to over 15% during the last 2 years. However, the organic hole-transporting materials used are normally quite expensive due to complicated synthetic procedure or high-purity requirement. Here, we demonstrate the application of an effective and cheap inorganic p-type hole-transporting material, copper thiocyanate, on lead halide perovskite-based devices. With low-temperature solution-process deposition method, a power conversion efficiency of 12.4% was achieved under full sun illumination. This work represents a well-defined cell configuration with optimized perovskite morphology by two times of lead iodide deposition, and opens the door for integration of a class of abundant and inexpensive material for photovoltaic application.

Concepts: Oxygen, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Photovoltaic module, Photovoltaic array, Lead(II) nitrate


Recent advances in the use of organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites for optoelectronics have been rapid, with reported power conversion efficiencies of up to 22 per cent for perovskite solar cells. Improvements in stability have also enabled testing over a timescale of thousands of hours. However, large-scale deployment of such cells will also require the ability to produce large-area, uniformly high-quality perovskite films. A key challenge is to overcome the substantial reduction in power conversion efficiency when a small device is scaled up: a reduction from over 20 per cent to about 10 per cent is found when a common aperture area of about 0.1 square centimetres is increased to more than 25 square centimetres. Here we report a new deposition route for methyl ammonium lead halide perovskite films that does not rely on use of a common solvent or vacuum: rather, it relies on the rapid conversion of amine complex precursors to perovskite films, followed by a pressure application step. The deposited perovskite films were free of pin-holes and highly uniform. Importantly, the new deposition approach can be performed in air at low temperatures, facilitating fabrication of large-area perovskite devices. We reached a certified power conversion efficiency of 12.1 per cent with an aperture area of 36.1 square centimetres for a mesoporous TiO2-based perovskite solar module architecture.

Concepts: Nitrogen, Solar cell, Photovoltaics, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Photovoltaic module, Amorphous silicon, Photovoltaic array