Solar panels could become a third more effective with new technique


The scientific technique of singlet fission was first observed in glowing crystals nearly half a century ago, but now scientists are looking at it once again as a way to improve the efficiency of modern solar cells.

The process allows a single photon of light to release two electrons instead of the usual one, and a new paper published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters claims this could increase the rate of energy conversion in solar panels by as much as 30%.

Solar panels currently work by absorbing a photon of light and then creating a exciton, which splits into two electrons and is then harnessed in the panel as electricity. However, in singlet fission a highly charged photon can emit two excitons, and therefore four electrons, creating the possibility of a solar cell with a 40% efficiency.

In the early 60s and 70s, singlet fission was first described in order to explain the strange glow coming from various fluorescent organic crystals. However, the process was forgotten soon after.

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