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Study: Amalgamation Of Quantum Physics And Photosynthesis Leads To The Discovery Of More Efficient Solar Cells

First Posted: Dec 02, 2016 03:30 AM EST
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A new study indicates that in combining quantum physics and photosynthesis, a more efficient solar cell will be created.
(Photo : Ethan Miller/Getty Images )

Scientists have merged photosynthesis and physics to create highly efficient solar cells. They designed a new quantum heat engine photocell that helps employ the flow of energy in solar cells. The heat engine photocell absorbs photons from the Sun and transforms the photon energy into electricity.

The findings of the study were printed in the journal Nano Letters. It was led by Nathan Gabor, an assistant professor at University of California, Riverside and other physicists from the same university, according to UCR Today.

Professor Gabor began to combine his background in physics with biology when he became interested in photosynthesis and asking the question such as why plants are green. He then thought of solar energy conversion and contemplating on ideas on how to make materials for solar cells that highly absorb the fluctuating amount of energy from the Sun.

Professor Gabor explained that plants have evolved to do this. On the other hand, the current affordable solar cells, which are at best 20 percent efficient, do not control these sudden changes in solar power. This resulted in a much energy waste and aids prevent the wide-scale adoption of solar cells as an energy source.

To find the solution to this problem, the researchers devise a new kind of quantum heat engine photocell. This device aids in controlling the flow of energy in solar cells and absorbs photons from the Sun, thus converts the photon energy into electricity. They also discovered that the quantum heat engine photocell could regulate solar power conversion without requiring active feedback controllers that suppressed the fluctuations in solar power and reduce the overall efficiency.

The team aims to design the simplest photocell that matches the amount of solar power from the Sun as closest to the average power demand. They also want to suppress energy fluctuations to avoid the accumulation of excess energy.

They incorporated two-photon-absorbing channels and found that the regulation of energy flow emerges naturally within the photocell. The team optimized the photocell parameters to lessen the solar energy fluctuations.

They also discovered that the absorption spectrum is like the absorption spectrum observed in photosynthetic green plants. So, they propose that natural regulation of energy found in the quantum heat engine photocell has a significant role in the photosynthesis in plants. This is the first hypothesis of connecting the quantum mechanical structure to the greenness of plants, according to Phys.org.

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