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

Towards a dictionary of the human genome

Marie Brunet’s research focuses on the secrets still hidden in our genomes. She says that despite the fact that we live in an era where getting our genome sequenced is possible, we still don’t know the origin of two fifths of inherited diseases. That is because, as she says, the genome only currently maps the […]

Scholar recognised for research into misinformation

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has been shortlisted for a Women of the Future Award for her research into countering misinformation. Melisa Basol [2018] was shortlisted for the science category of the UK Awards which recognises “truly remarkable female scientists, forging new ground in research and scientific achievement”. There are 11 other categories and three special […]

Scholars join forces on anti-cancer drug

Two Gates Cambridge Scholars have joined forces to work on a drug candidate that has the potential to replace one of the most widely used cancer drugs around the world. Dr Anand Jeyasekharan [2004], who did his PhD in Oncology, and Dr Chandler Robinson [2009] who did an MBA at Cambridge, will collaborate on a […]

Making the experiences of imprisoned women activists visible

Growing up in a small town in Bengal, Jigisha Bhattacharya [2022] developed a particular sensitivity to marginalised groups and conflicts between different communities and identities from an early age.  It is this interest and her experience of political protests at university, combined with a longstanding curiosity about the links between politics and the arts, that […]