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Science Technology

Solar Cells That Emit Light Break Efficiency Record 139

benfrog writes "Researchers at the University of California-Berkeley say they have come up with a counter-intuitive way of making solar cells more efficient — making them emit light. In a press release the scientists claim to be the first to demonstrate that the better solar cells are at emitting photons (the more LED-like they are), the more efficient they are at generating electricity. However, 'unlike an LED, the electrons in a solar cell are absorbing photons from an exterior source as well as emitting their own.'"
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Solar Cells That Emit Light Break Efficiency Record

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  • The bigger problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cirby ( 2599 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @05:20PM (#39800079)

    Sure, it would be nice to have much more efficient solar cells, but there's another issue keeping costs up.

    It's the home infrastructure.

    Right now, it costs more to install the solar cells on a roof than it does to make them, and once you add in the cabling and battery/storage system for balancing the load or for nighttime use, the actual power generating part of the system is much less than half of the whole system cost. Increasing efficiency is great, and will let you cut the overall size of the system for a similar capacity, but the big issue is making a solar system that's easy to install, with cheap storage, for a lot less.

    Cheap batteries and inexpensive support systems are the things we need now...

  • Logan's Run (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eggfoolr ( 999317 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @05:24PM (#39800117)

    Who else immediately thought of the solar powered car in the Logan's Run TV series? I could never understand why the solar collector glowed... now I know!

  • by Chuckstar ( 799005 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @05:58PM (#39800561)

    I disagree. The grid is in the business of transferring electricity around. The grid doesn't care if it's electricity generated at a plant and sent to your home, or generated at your home and transferred to your neighbors home. And of course you'll pay to be attached to the grid, but that could take many forms, almost any manner of which would be cheaper than buying a bank of batteries.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @09:53PM (#39802433)

    Thermodynamics teaches us that the most efficient cyclical process is one that can be run in reverse the same way it is run forward. The more irreversible the process, the more it strays from equilibrium, the more it runs uncontrolled (all synonyms) the farther it is from being maximally efficient.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford