According to UCLA, “To use solar radiation more effectively, Yang’s team stacked, in series, multiple photoactive layers with complementary absorption spectra to construct a tandem polymer solar cell. Their tandem structure consists of a front cell with a larger (or high) band gap material and a rear cell with a smaller (or low) band gap polymer, connected by a designed interlayer.”
The researchers said that by using more than one absorption material, each capturing a different part of the solar spectrum, the tandem cell is able to maintain the current and increase the output voltage. Thus your increase in efficiency. The Yang paper reports that efficiency at 8.6 percent. Since then, however, incorporating the Sumitomo Chemical polymer material has bumped the efficiency even higher, to a verified 10.6 percent, an indication of how quickly solar efficiencies are improving.
According to the university, the work by Yang and his team “opens up a new direction for polymer chemists to pursue designs of new materials for tandem polymer solar cells. Furthermore, it indicates an important step towards the commercialization of polymer solar cells.”
They’re thinking they could get the solar cell efficiency up to 15 percent efficiency in the next few years, so don’t be surprised to see more solar-efficiency record stories.
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