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In what ways can we improve solar energy efficiency?

SOLUTION

CHALLENGE

When it comes to installing solar cells, labor cost and the cost of the land to house them

T E C H N O L O G Y

constitute the bulk of the expense. The solar cells—made often of silicon or cadmium telluride—rarely cost more than 20 percent of the total cost. Solar energy could be made cheaper if less land had to be purchased to accommodate solar panels, best achieved if each solar cell could be coaxed to generate more power.

By combining inorganic semiconductor nanocrystals with organic molecules, UCR chemist Christopher Bardeen has succeeded in “upconverting” photons in the visible and near-infrared regions of the solar spectrum. This upconverted photon is readily absorbed by photovoltaic cells, generating electricity from light that normally would be wasted, boosting solar efficiencies by 30 percent or more.

Christopher Bardeen

Professor, Chemistry College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

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