Black Silicon In Traditional Solar Cells Able To Increase Efficiency Of Solar Panels
A system that allows solar cells to effectively harvest energy from the infrared spectrum has been developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications. The new technology is based on the source of energy that in the past has mostly been out of reach and has the potential of becoming a standard in the solar panels of tomorrow. The research is based on absorbing infrared light using what’s known as black silicon. Dark silicon could improve efficiency in traditional solar cells by harvesting energy in the infrared spectrum. This material is made by using precision lasers to “zap” sulfur atoms into the silicon lattice in well-defined patterns. The researchers chose to change the patterns of laser pulses that drive sulfur atoms into the silicon lattice, altering their conformation to maximize the number of electrons that can climb “up” the energy gap and become conductive. Prototypes of the cells have shown that the mechanism can double the efficiency of black silicon, but the researchers are still looking to identify the configuration of sulfur atoms that can result in the best performance. In reality it will be quite easy to incorporate a layer of black silicon on traditional cells and thus embed them with already existing commercial technology that will increase efficiency of such panels by about one percent.