The metal used for solar panels, known as cadmium telluride (CdTe) has shown significant improvements in terms of efficiency, but why?
Solar panels use CdTe as thin-film solar cells that catch the radiation that then is converted into energy. Researchers from Colorado State University (CSU) have found that this material works better by adding Selenium to it.
The blue solar panels that are on the rooftops and landscapes are made out of this semiconductor (CdTe)- crystalline silicon, which can also be found in many electronic devices.
In a key breakthrough, the researchers at CSU’s National Science Foundation in collaboration with partners at Loughborough University, United Kingdom, supported Next Generation Photovoltaics Centre and they came up with how the performance of CdTe thin-film solar cells is improved further by the addition of selenium. The investigation probed that the ratio of energy output to light input of over 22%.
How does Selenium affect the CdTe? Well, The experiments highlighted that selenium overcomes the effects of atomic-scale defects in cadmium telluride crystals. And the results also provided a new path for widespread less expensive solar-generated electricity. The electrons generated when sunlight hits the solar panel that is selenium-treated are less prone to get trapped and lost at the material’s defects, located at the boundaries between crystal grains, increasing the amount of energy extracted from the solar cells. Researchers discovered this unexpected behavior by measuring how much light is emitted from selenium-containing panels.