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Surface Modification Generates Higher Solar Cell Efficiency

Posted on: 05/12/2014
A University of Arkansas research team has achieved the highest efficiency ever in a nine millimeter-squared solar cell made of gallium arsenide. After coating the cufflink-sized cells with a thin layer of zinc oxide, the research team reached a conversion efficiency of 14 percent.

An alternative to silicon, gallium arsenide is a semiconductor used to manufacture integrated circuits, light-emitting diodes, and solar cells. The surface modification, achieved through a chemical synthesis of thin films, nanostructures, and nanoparticles, suppressed the sun’s reflection so the cell could absorb more light.

The surface modification could also be applied to other solar cells, including those made of indium-arsenide and gallium-arsenide quantum dots. Solar cells made of these materials may be able to achieve 63 percent conversion efficiency, which would make them ideal for future development of solar cells, according to the Arkansas researchers.

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