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Published on April 25th, 2014 | by James Ayre

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New Solar Cell Efficiency Record Achieved For 9 Millimeter-Squared Cell Made Of Gallium Arsenide

April 25th, 2014 by  


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.

Yahia Makableh demonstrates how a small array of 9-millimeter, gallium-arsenide solar cells can provide energy for small devices. Image Credit: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Yahia Makableh demonstrates how a small array of 9-millimeter, gallium-arsenide solar cells can provide energy for small devices.
Image Credit: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville


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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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.



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