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

New app aims to help women through the menopause

A new app which helps women to manage the menopause was soft launched last month in collaboration with Mumsnet. Stella is the first product by Vira Health, a company which was co-founded in 2019 by Gates Cambridge Scholar Rebecca Love. Stella offers women relief from the most common symptoms of menopause, including sleep disturbances, hot […]

A global perspective on gender and health

The middle of a global pandemic may not seem the ideal time to move country with a new baby, but Johanna Riha [2011] took up her new role as a research fellow at the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) in Malaysia during the pandemic and moved to Kuala Lumpur around a […]

Scholars share 2021 Bill Gates Sr. Prize

Two Gates Cambridge Scholars are sharing the 2021 Bill Gates Sr. Prize in recognition of their outstanding research and social leadership. Emma Soneson and Maša Josipović have been selected for the prize which was established by the Gates Cambridge Trustees in June 2012 in recognition of the late Bill Gates Sr.’s role in establishing the […]

The censoring effect of populist anti-media messages

Populist attacks on the press should be viewed as a form of soft censorship which uses journalistic norms regarding objectivity to undermine the media, according to a new study by a Gates Cambridge Scholar. The study, Covering populist media criticism: When journalists’ professional norms turn against them, by Ayala Panievsky, is published in the International […]