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Photovoltaic and Superconductivity

  1. Apr 10, 2008 #1

    MIC

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    My question deals with experimentation in combining these two technologies. I think it would be a good duo, since PV's are so inefficient, and superconductivity is so efficient. I would like to know if people agree or disagree (and why), where I could find useful information on this topic (experimental and theoretical), or any other ideas on improving PV efficiency.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 10, 2008 #2
    I would submit that, at the bleeding edge, PV aren't as inefficient as you might think, and superconductors aren't as practical as you might think.
     
  4. Apr 10, 2008 #3

    f95toli

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    How exactly would you "combine" superconductivity and PV?
    Superconductors are -from an electrical point of view- just very good conductors (at least at DC) so I can't see anyway of improving PVs by making some parts out of a superconducting material.
    You CAN make very sensitve photon detectors using superconducting materials; but none of the types I can think of actually generates energy; they are usually read-out by detecting changes in e.g. the impedance or the current-voltage charachteristics.
     
  5. Apr 10, 2008 #4

    MIC

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    I am not sure it is possible, I imagine that someone might have tinkered with this. I wish I had a better understanding, but I will give it a go anyways
    Theoretical (-math)
    I think electrons may jump to there conductive band easier utilizing the phonons in the formation of the cooper pair. The electrons now look more like a conveyor belt than an ort cloud to move away uniformally and uninhibited.
    Experimental (?funding)
    I would try to use elements which show superconductive properties (high temp superconductors) to make the photovoltaic cells. Then place the cells in a glass container, apply a strong vacuum, and use liquid nitrogen bringing it to superconductive temperatures. Then I would place light on them. I might try filter hot frequencies.
    Of course, I dont really know what Im doing. I thought it sounded nice though:).
     
  6. Apr 10, 2008 #5
    No offense, but that's kind of the problem. Just because you can say something that sounds nice by throwing together a bunch of words, it doesn't mean that it's in anyway realistic or even sensical.
     
  7. Apr 11, 2008 #6

    f95toli

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    No, it doesn't work that way. There is neither a bandgap (there is no conductive band as such) nor electrons and holes in superconductors, meaning that can't be used to make PV cell.
    You can of course use light with [itex]hf>2\Delta[/itex] to split Cooper-pairs into two electrons which can create an "avalanche" effect which generates more electrons (quasiparticles), this is how some superconducting detectors work. However, this process is not efficient enough to result in any net energy production. There are also quite a few other processes that can be used for detector applications; but none that can be used to make PV cells.
     
  8. Apr 11, 2008 #7

    MIC

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    I thought the condensed electrons formed at or near the conduction band, leaving a hole in the valence band. I will work on a better mental image of what is happening here. There is a lot going on that I do not understood, like interaction between light waves, bosons and phonons, exactly how high temp. superconductors work, etc... I am curious enough to try and learn more though (right now I am looking at plasmons), and I will try and write things with realistic details next time
     
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