“When we saw the results, we could hardly believe our eyes.”
Please forgive me for my hashtags above, since this discovery is a detector, not a solar panel. But hashtags don’t cover everything as precisely as I’d like.
Aalto University researchers have developed a black silicon photodetector that has reached above 130% efficiency. Thus, for the first time, a single photovoltaic device has exceeded the 100% external quantum efficiency limit at UV. Aalto
What this means is, 100 photons from a certain UV frequency are generating 130 electrons. Not just 100, which sounded impossible all by itself, but more. The results have been replicated (thank you, science.) Apparently, the appropriate high-energy photons trigger a process inside special silicon nanostructures.
The phenomenon has not been observed earlier in actual devices since the presence of electrical and optical losses has reduced the number of collected electrons… In practice, the record efficiency means that the performance of any device that is utilizing light detection can be drastically improved. Light detection is already used widely in our everyday life, for example, in cars, mobile phones, smartwatches and medical devices. Aalto
Okay, this isn’t going to goose your solar panels anytime soon. But since you already know that solar conversion efficiency is limited to a pitiful 33.7% in photovoltaic cells (assuming typical sunlight conditions per Wikipedia,) news about improvements in any photovoltaic device is sure to catch your attention.
Watch your subscription to Physical Review Letters for the upcoming paper, “Black-silicon ultraviolet photodiodes achieve external quantum efficiency above 130%“.