Breakthrough material promises solar revolution

Scientists at Lehigh University have unveiled a groundbreaking discovery: a novel material poised to revolutionize the efficiency of forthcoming solar panels. This breakthrough, achieving an absorption efficiency rate of 190% of the theoretical limit for conventional silicon-based solar cells, marks a significant stride towards sustainable energy solutions. Professor Chinedu Ekuma of Lehigh University’s physics department hailed the finding as a pivotal advancement, showcasing innovative avenues to redefine solar energy’s efficacy and accessibility.

The material, developed by the university’s research team, exhibits exceptional performance in capturing both infrared and visible light within the electromagnetic spectrum. Notably, it boasts an external quantum efficiency (EQE) of 190%, a crucial metric indicating the generation of one electron per absorbed photon from sunlight. This extraordinary EQE rate is made possible by the material’s exploitation of ‘van der Waals gaps’—microscopic spaces between layered two-dimensional materials.

Professor Ekuma underscores the material’s rapid response and heightened efficiency, underscoring its potential for advanced photovoltaic applications. This innovation, dubbed Cu-intercalated GeSe/SnS, holds promise for next-generation solar cells, essential for meeting global energy demands.

Moving forward, Professor Ekuma’s team aims to integrate this experimental material into existing renewable energy infrastructures. Their findings, detailed in the study “Chemically tuned intermediate band states in atomically thin CuxGeSe/SnS quantum material for photovoltaic applications,” published in Science Advances, represent a critical step towards realizing efficient solar energy conversion on a large scale.