Yale researchers recently discovered a way to boost the efficiency of solar cells by a whopping 38 percent by coating them with a fluorescent dye. Polymer solar cells are popular for their low cost, low weight, large area and mechanical flexibility, according to Physorg, but they only convert roughly 50 percent of the solar energy absorbed into usable electricity. The organic squaraine dye improves light absorption and recycles electrons, thereby hastening the light to energy conversion process.
The Yale researchers relied on Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), a well-known biochemical mechanism, to achieve this radical new energy conversion rate.
“In this type of solar cell—FRET-based heterojunction polymer solar cells—extra energy is able to migrate from one molecule to another over long distances. The dye, which is highly absorbent in the near-infrared region, both broadens the spectral absorption of solar cells and enhances electricity transmission,” Physorg explains.
Lead researcher André D. Taylor, the assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering at Yale, told the paper that their approach can be used to improve the efficiency of future solar cell designs. Their research was published in the online journal Nature Photonics.
Lead image via Fibonacci Sequence