Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have developed a radically new design for a concentrator solar cell that, when irradiated from the side, generates solar conversion efficiencies that can exceed an ultra-efficient 40% conversion with intensities equal to 10,000 suns.
Typically a concentrator solar cell consists of multiple layers of semiconductor materials stacked on on top of the other. These are connected in series and electricity is generated by the different materials as light of different wavelengths passes through them.
These concentrators are complex and difficult to manufacture and have efficiency limitations.
The new type of concentrator cell also has multiple layers of semiconductor material but they are designed to be illuminated from the side. The layers are totally independent, making them easy to manufacture and raising the possibility of using common materials, such as silicon, previously deemed unsuitable under highly concentrated solar radiation.
Tailoring the cells to side illumination reduces the cell's internal resistance to negligible levels. This increases the solar concentration levels at which cell efficiency peaks to up to 10,000 times ambient solar radiation, which is significantly higher than with can be achieved conventional concentrator cells.