Paper outlines how solar cells’ efficiency could be improved

  • May 31, 2011
Paper outlines how solar cells’ efficiency could be improved

Niraj Lal co-authors a paper on solar cell efficiency.

Experimental solar cells which could pave the way to more efficient solar panels have been created by a team of researchers, including Gates scholar Niraj Lal [2008].

In a paper for Optics Express, one of the premier journals of the Optics Society of America, Niraj and his co-authors described how solar panels can be made more efficient by making them on tiny nano-sized metallic Buddhist singing bowls instead of on flat metal.

The paper “Enhancing solar cells with localized plasmon in nanovoids” was published this month. Niraj says the metal bowls have resonances known as “plasmonic resonances” that concentrate light on the nanoscale, increasing the absorption and efficiencies of solar cell materials placed inside them.

These organic plasmonic solar cells, that Niraj describes in the paper as “orgasmonic when showing enhancement”, demonstrate a four-fold enhancement of efficiency over identically prepared flat cells on the same substrate.

He says: “Whilst these experimental solar cells aren’t going to be on roofs any time soon, the paper demonstrates novel physical concepts that help pave the way forward for future generations of solar panels.”

Niraj is studying for a PhD in Physics at the Nanophotonics Centre with Professor Jeremy Baumberg FRS. He is looking at “Nanovoid Plasmon-Enhanced Photovoltaics” which involves using new physics to make solar cells more efficient.

He says: “I think one of the biggest challenges of our generation is to understand our planet’s resources and develop ways to live with them sustainably.”

Picture credit: Pixomar and www.freedigitalphotos.net

Latest News

Knowledge gap on zoonotic disease transmission highlighted

The impact of climate change on migration patterns, particularly in areas which depend on agriculture and livestock, could affect zoonotic disease transmission yet little research has been done to date. A new study, led by Gates Cambridge Scholar and Veterinary Science PhD student Dorien Braam [2018], looks at the research that currently exists, but calls […]

Addressing climate change in words and action

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has called for the US federal government to establish a national, robust and legally binding net-zero target that emphasises comprehensiveness, equity and clarity on the role of offsets.  In an opinion piece in Arizona Republic, Stephen Lezak and his co-authors, including Kate Gallego, the mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, which has done […]

Gates Cambridge mentors: forging bonds and giving back

The Gates Cambridge Scholars Council has been running a mentoring programme since 2018 as part of an effort to bring alumni and scholars closer together, build a stronger sense of community and to give mentors a chance to give back. This year has seen a big increase in the number of mentors coming forward, with […]

Scholar joins COP26 net-zero initiative

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has been appointed as a climate change consultant on a new consortium working on a net-zero vision for the world ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference [COP26] in November. Ramit Debnath will be working on designing the India net-zero profile chapter of the vision along with in-country experts. The international […]