What’s next in Hybrid photovoltaic cells?

hybrid photovoltaic cell

As we know it:
Hybrid photovoltaic cells can basically be described as a composite of organic materials that consist of conjugated polymers, and inorganic materials (mainly CdSe, ZnO, TiO, and PbS). The function of the polymers is to absorb light as the donor and transport holes (an electron hole is the conceptual and mathematical opposite of an electron). Whereas the inorganic materials in the cell, are used as the acceptor and electron transporter in the structure. The culminating process generates a hole-electron pair on effect of sunlight, which is separated by a potential barrier (such as p-n junction), and hence manages to induce a current flow for production of clean electricity.

Hybrid solar cells have various advantages, especially in relation to their potential for being cost effective. Moreover, some of them incorporate both the PV and Thermal elements onto a single panel, for a photovoltaic thermal (or PV-T) collector. This in turn enables them to mitigate the heat for constant generation of electricity (conventional PV panels typically lose efficiency of up to 0.5 percent per Kelvin degree rise in panel temperature), and also allows for reduced roof space for the total solar installation.

Need for change:
Since their inception, solar cells have been complex and costly to produce. Now hybrid solar cells can provide a solution for the above problems, but on the other hand their relatively low efficiency hasn’t still made them commercially viable. For example, statistically – silicon photodevices have power conversion efficiencies greater of than 20 percent, which is almost 9 times more than the 2.4 percent of the CdSe-PPV system. Other challenges include decaying of carbon nanotube particles (overtime in oxygen), or leakage in the case of liquid organic electrolytes.

What’s Next?

1. Fujitsu’s New Solar Cells Also Harvest Body Heat:

What’s new?
In a fascinating turn of events, the Japanese company Fujitsu has managed to contrive an advanced hybrid solar cell that can not only harness power from indoor lighting system, but also from our body heat. All animals have the ability of thermo-regulation, which biologically keeps their inner body’s temperature intact. This ‘insulated’ heat can be utilized by these solar cells to generate short spurts of electricity.

What difference will it make?
The technology basically utilizes human body as a battery for energy source. So while we are at outdoors, or on a hike, and have a sudden fascination for chatting over our mobiles phones or listening to music; these small devices can be juiced up by our very own body energy, without the need for any electric outlet. A timid version of The Matrix; we must say!

2. Prism Solar develops hybrid solar module:

What’s new?
A new technology named as the Holographic Planar Concentrator™ (HPC) developed by Prism Solar, allows the reduction of silicon required to generate the same amount of energy (in comparison to a conventional solar panel). The hybrid composite material used in the system consists of a unique holographic thin-film coupled with crystalline PV. The thin films actually accentuate upon the diffraction caused by direct and reflected light incident on the PV cell strips.

What difference will it make?
According to the company, these bi-facial modules can generate as much as 30 percent more energy, as the thin-film receives light from both directions. Moreover, the technology can be cost effective in the long run, because of greater volume of electricity produced in the same amount of space.

3. Hybrid Photovoltaic Solar-Thermal Collector:

What’s new?
Turkish company, Solimpeks Corp. have come up with their revolutionary Volther hybrid photovoltaic-solar thermal collector, which can dually generate electricity and hot water. Basically the contraption amalgamates a hybrid PV and solar thermal collector, which in turns allows the PV cells to be cooled by the water flowing around them. The result is a much greater electrical output from the cells and also the production of hot water.

What difference will it make?
Again the whole system is cost effective and requires less space than conventional systems. This is in part because of its duality of function (acting as solar power generating panels as well as solar heater). Moreover because of their characteristic of mitigating heat, the PVs are expected to last a longer life.

4. Argonne touts hybrid PV cell with “homegrown” polymer:

What’s New?
US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Labs have contrived the ultimately exclusive yet convenient form of solar technology, by literally ‘growing’ polymers inside tubes of semiconducting material. The on site fabrication or rather polymerization (By UV method) in this case is done by introducing polythiophene inside Titanium Oxide (TiO2) nanotubes.

What difference will it make?
According to scientists, the efficiency can be 10 times better than hybrid panels infused with premade polymer. But the most important factor would be the substantial reduction of cost in this manufacturing technique.