Solar power: New tech from MIT makes solar cells more efficient

Though countries are banking on solar power as an alternative for non-renewable sources of energy, solar cells have their own limitations. Their bulky form restricts capability and efficiency, which keeps solar energy from becoming a viable resource despite lower costs. But, new technology from MIT might help solar overcome these handicaps. According to the MIT Review, researchers at the famed technology institute have been able to develop photovoltaic cells that can perform at double the efficiency rate of a conventional PV cell. Unlike in the latter’s case, where the energy of the light rays is converted directly into electrical energy, here the cells first convert light into heat before converting it back into light, but within a spectrum that solar cells can use. Though the cells only operate at 7% efficiency at present, researchers believe this can be increased to 64%, which is twice that of a conventional PV cell.While this is not the first attempt to produce these solar thermophotovoltaics, what MIT researchers have been able to achieve is creating an absorber-emitter that can conduct photon recycling, to produce more heat, thus creating more light. Though the process is expensive, what can make it really cost-effective is if MIT can somehow create a thermal storage system and use it even when there is no sunlight.