In January of 2018, University of Groningen Professor of Photophysics and Optoelectronics Maria Antonietta Loi discovered a material that makes it possible for 'hot electrons' to retain their energy levels longer.
Usually, the extra energy is lost very quickly through heat and is not used. However, because of this new material's ability to retain the energy, it is then possible to obtain this energy for a higher voltage output thus increasing efficiency. What is this material called?
Also called formamidinium tin triiodide perovskites, the new material causes the lifetime of hot electrons to be a few nanoseconds longer than normal. For solar panels to better convert energy, it needs to have just the right conditions. Too little energy and the photons pass through, too much and the excess is just dispersed as heat.
In the new material, the energy levels are retained longer. Because of the longer lifespan of the hot electrons, it is possible to harvest the electrons before the energy is lost as heat which would mean a higher voltage output for the solar cell. Theory suggests that being able to harvest hot electrons with hybrid perovskites, the efficiency of solar cells could possibly increase for up to 66%.
The technology is new and further tests are to be done to figure out why hybrid perovskites are able to increase the lifespan of hot electrons. This in turn could lead to further discoveries of more efficient materials. Indeed exciting news in the goal of achieving greener and greener energy sources.