A new conversion efficiency record for 9 millimeter-squared solar cells made of gallium arsenide was recently achieved by engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas. The new record — 14% efficiency — was achieved via the utilization of a new approach using a thin layer of zinc oxide.
With the new higher efficiency, a small array (9-12) of these cufflink-sized solar cells can generate enough electricity to power small light-emitting diodes, and/or other similar devices. Larger arrays or set-ups could of course generate considerably more power.
The press release from UARK provides more:
An alternative to silicon, gallium arsenide is a semiconductor used to manufacture integrated circuits, light-emitting diodes and solar cells. The surface modification, achieved through a chemical synthesis of thin films, nanostructures and nanoparticles, suppressed the sun’s reflection so the cell could absorb more light. But even without the surface coating, the researchers were able to achieve 9-percent efficiency by manipulating the host material.
“We want to increase the efficiency of small cells,” said Yahia Makableh, doctoral student in electrical engineering. “With this specific material, the theoretical maximum is 33 percent efficiency, so we have some work to do. But we’re making progress. The beauty of zinc oxide is that it’s cheap, non-toxic and easy to synthesize.”
The new findings are detailed in a pair of articles published in the journals Applied Physics Letters and the Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells.
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