Featuring NEW writer Megan Blackwell!
Despite the world’s apparent shutdown, people all over are still working as hard as ever to make the world a better place. Tom Hanks films SNL from his apartment, teachers put videos of themselves reading picture books online for kids to watch at home, and researchers continue to look for ways to improve renewable energy.
Nine such people at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have been doing just that – they’ve created a new, incredibly efficient solar cell: the six-junction III-V solar cell with 47.1% efficiency rate. Solar cells make up solar panels, and the average efficiency rate of a regular, single junction solar cell is around 15-20%. A ‘junction’ is a layer of semiconductor materials in a solar cell that use sunlight to produce an electric current through electron diffusion. The six-junction III-V solar cell is able to dramatically expand its efficiency by using six ‘junctions’ instead of the usual one, each of which is designed to capture a designated part of the solar wavelength spectrum. By increasing the amount of light energy, they can take in, the solar cells increase the amount of energy that they can produce. Also, by concentrating the light using mirrors, the tool containing the six-junction solar cell and its constituent parts is thinner than a human hair!
New research like this is helping to open avenues into expanding renewable energy and make human life more sustainable. While the world may seem grim, good things are still happening!
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