Researchers have found that the decline in solar cell efficiency is due to structural defects in silicon that were previously overlooked, and the degradation can be reversed..
Over the past 40 years, scientists have conducted 270 studies to determine the cause of solar cell degradation, which is hindering further development of the technology. However, it was only recently that a team from the University of Manchester discovered it using deep-level capacitive spectroscopy..
The researchers found that during the conversion of light into electrical charge, some of the flow of electrons falls into a structural trap and is absorbed. This degrades the overall performance of the equipment by about 2% and leads to material degradation..
They also proved that the given the defect is present until the photocell has sufficiently warmed up and usually seen early in the morning. Moreover, in silicon higher quality electrons «live» longer that one more time confirms the results of the study.
Additionally, heating solar panels at night has been found to reverse degradation..
At first glance, an increase in efficiency at 2% seems insignificant, but globally it is equivalent to gigawatts of energy.
According to the authors of the work, today, due to defects, the same amount of electricity is potentially lost as fifteen nuclear power plants produce..
We also previously reported on developing a photodiode that generates electricity from night cooling.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: hnonline