A team of researchers hopes to push solar cell performance to the limit through a process that better exploits the visible light spectrum. Northwestern University researchers, in partnership with energy giant Exelon, want to increase the maximum of efficiency of solar cells from 33 percent to 45 percent.
Their research centers around a process called singlet fission, which enables a photon of sunlight to generate two electrons, as opposed to the usual single electron.
The increase in electrons – “two for the price of one!” as Michelle Chen, a Northwestern graduate student and lead researcher in the project, told Medill Reports Chicago – results in a corresponding boost in efficiency.
Singlet fission was first discovered in the 1960s but only recently has been recognized for its potential to enhance the efficiency of solar cells.