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Photovoltaics film solar cell technology

  1. Aug 18, 2003 #1
    Hey all,
    New guy on the site. Just to start off, I'm 15 year old who enjoys reading (mainly physics).
    Now, as many may already know, current crystaline silicon has been proven to have a total efficiency of 25%. Some companies have even quit on their thin film solar cell technology due to lack of efficiency.
    My question is: What is the fate of a photovoltaics? Will the future be in new organic dyes? Or will it be in a new semiconductor all together?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 18, 2003 #2

    Chi Meson

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    Photovoltaics have been approaching a limit to their theoretical efficiency. By saying that their efficiency is "25%," what that means is about 25% of the total photon energy is being turned into electrical energy. The rest is converted to thermal energy causing the temperature of the panels and equipment to rise.

    Part of the problem is due to the fact that a large amount of the sun's photons are infra-red. Most infra red photons do not have the quantum energy needed to knock the electron out of the silicon atom, so right off the bat 30% of the sun's photons can't give us electricity (not this way at least).

    I assume by "organic dyes" your referring to the likes of carotenoids (the stuff that makes carrots orange)? I know that the research in this area is very hot (physical bio-chemistry!! Or was is bio-physical chemistry? No, it's bio-chemical physics!!) We are a long way from getting natural photosynthesis to give us electricity, but there are other applications that are promising. (I'm being vague because I don't know that much about this field)

    There's always hope that a new ceramic (perhaps, similar to our latest superconductors) will be created that will have a low "work function" (that means they could be photo-electron emitters for low energy infra red) but as far as metals and semi-conductors go, it will probably be just a lot of tweaking to get to a slightly better efficiency.

    Photovoltaics will always have their use, but my bet is wilth the future of solar-thermal generators (search for "solar furnaces").
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