Wednesday, November 23, 2011

U of S leading the way in next generation solar PV cells

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada are working to develop more efficient and cheaper photovoltaic (PV) solar cells that could help solve global energy problems.

Chemistry Professor and researcher Ron Steer thinks he has found a way to turn traditionally brittle and inefficient organic cells into robust, sturdy sources of energy.

“We have proof of our principle that indicates we can make a more affordable and reliable cell, but how efficient will the cells be compared to ones that already exist, that’s the part we’re hoping to succeed with. If we can achieve even the slightest increase, even one or two per cent efficiency of these cells, it could be beneficial to everyone.”

Making the cells more efficient is a matter of converting the spectrum of light.

“Essentially, if you take blue light in the visible part of the spectrum, this works well in solar cells. If you take infrared, this does not work well. So, what we’ve discovered is a way to convert the infrared light into blue light.”

His work is taking place in the southern part of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan where more hours of sunlight are available than anywhere else on the planet. Along with parts of southern Alberta, these regions receive around 2,500 hours of bright sunshine per year, or about 1361 KwH.

The next steps in the process will be creating cells and testing the research principles. If the cells work, it could revitalize the solar PV industry and turn the sunniest place on the planet into a working grid of solar energy.

Source: University of Saskatchewan Press Release. To find out more about Professor Steer's research into organic solar cells, contact Mark Ferguson at the University of Saskatchewan at + 1 306 966 1851 or m.ferguson@usask.ca.

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