Quantum photocells might cheat efficiency limits

Getting atoms into quantum lockstep could curb photon loss

By Laura Sanders, 13:00 PM May 28, 2010

Atoms in a solar cell coaxed into a curious simultaneous quantum state may convert sunlight into electrical energy more efficiently than previously believed possible, a new study proposes.

The laws of thermodynamics set the upper limit of solar cell efficiency at around 80 percent, says the work’s author, Marlan Scully of Texas A&M University in College Station and Princeton University. But this estimate doesn’t take certain quantum effects into account. Scully’s new model shows that the u...

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