Achieving Cumulative Efficiency with Hybrid Solar Cells
What’s the best way to develop and improve an existing alternative energy technology? For solar energy technology, perhaps the most straightforward way is to increase the amount of sunlight that it could meaningfully transform into electrical energy. But unfortunately, no matter how much we tweak our existing silicon-based solar cells, there seems to be no straight way to make a significant leap in increasing solar energy efficiency.
What are the remaining options then?
Well, we could probably use the cumulative efficiency principle of integrated alternative energy, but instead of using other sources of energies, we’ll instead use other materials to create hybrid solar cells.
Carrying the Burden of Sunlight Collection Efficiency
Hybrid solar cells are technically solar cells that use other kinds of materials to collect sunlight and produce electricity. The official description states that it is made using a combination of organic and inorganic semiconductors. As with any other developed alternative energy configurations, it is originally aimed at increasing the overall or net electric energy output of a solar cell, although it may also address several other design issues like cost and practicality.
Improvements in efficiency are theoretically achieved by hybrid solar cells using an array of highly varied methods. For example, a hybrid solar cell might be designed to both collect solar heat and sunlight, increasing the energy output efficiency not by simply “powering up” the solar cell, but by finding a way to collect the most that it could from the sun.
Sample Hybrid Solar Cell Configurations
Because of the rather wide scope of research in developing hybrid solar cells, scientists from all around the world have devised and created their very own configurations, and two of the more fundamental types are:
- Spectrum/Light frequency-based Hybrid Solar Cells – these are the types of solar cells that attempt to absorb and harness more of the sun’s spectrum. Scientists of the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge already have a prototype design of this kind of hybrid solar cell that would absorb more blue and red light. With the help of their organic semiconductor made of pentacene, their design could theoretically increase the amount of sunlight absorbed by the solar cell by 34%, and upgrade its overall efficiency to 25%.
- Dye-Sensitized Hybrid Solar Cells – this type of solar cell makes use of a dye medium to collect and store electrons produced by its reaction to sunlight. Dye-sensitized solar cells were once considered as very inefficient (11%), until recent proposals and theories have once again given this technology hope. One current variation of this hybrid solar cell is the one that has its synthesized dye manufactured by bacteria. This bacteria-based hybrid solar cell uses a harmless variant of Mycobacterium smegmatis to produce the needed protein for the dye. The focus of the research was not to improve electric energy generation, but to make the cost of the solar cell low enough to economically balance its inefficiency.
The idea of developing hybrid solar cells is considered promising primarily because it does not need the technology itself to grow; the designs instead uses innovation to efficiently use all of the currently known scientific knowledge and principles in solar energy.
Photo credit: Some rights reserved by Steve Allen -The Environmental Blog
Reasons to JOIN US include:
- It's absolutely FREE!
- Get Green Tips You MUST know about.
- How to's on going green, saving money, and having fun.
- Keep up-to-date on our posts in cased you missed them.