Usually, solar cells only capture a very tight frequency spectrum of light to transform it into electricity. Scientists have tried hard to make the solar cells from different materials, but with little success or at high costs, at least for the moment. The University of Cantabria along with The Construction Unit at Tecnalia, a Spanish corporation, have another approach towards making solar cells capture the light better.
They want to change the light’s frequency from higher to lower, so it coincides with the solar cell’s maximum point on the efficiency curve. So, basically, what the compound they were looking for does is capture the light and re-emit it towards the solar cell with a changed frequency, just like a prism does when dissociates the white light. A special glass had to be developed for that, which translated into a 2 to 3 percent improvement on the solar cell’s efficiency.
The interest from building companies in this area is high, as demand rises for solar powered windows and roofs. Not only photovoltaic cells are involved in this race, but also solar thermal systems, which, combined with the photovoltaic ones, can provide users with both electricity and heat.
Furthermore, using the materials developed specifically for a broader spectrum of light along with these technologies could enhance the efficiency improvement beyond the 2-3%. It’s still experimental, but we’re interested to see more of how this technology evolves.
Eventually, along with ready-made solar cells using this frequency changing trick, the companies that will sell the technology will also create coatings for existing solar panels, so they can be upgraded to more than they can do right now.