Last week MIT researchers announced they've found a way to squeeze higher efficiency out of solar photovoltaic cells:
New ways of squeezing out greater efficiency from solar photovoltaic cells are emerging from computer simulations and lab tests conducted by a team of physicists and engineers at MIT.
Using computer modeling and a variety of advanced chip-manufacturing techniques, they have applied an antireflection coating to the front, and a novel combination of multi-layered reflective coatings and a tightly spaced array of lines -- called a diffraction grating -- to the backs of ultrathin silicon films to boost the cells' output by as much as 50 percent.
The carefully designed layers deposited on the back of the cell cause the light to bounce around longer inside the thin silicon layer, giving it time to deposit its energy and produce an electric current. Without these coatings, light would just be reflected back out into the surrounding air, said Peter Bermel, a postdoctoral researcher in MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics who has been working on the project.