Toronto: Researchers have developed a new class of materials that significantly boost the performance of solar cells.
Applying this thin film of metallic oxide comprising elements such as bismuth, iron, chromium and oxygen improves the performance of solar panels, the researchers demonstrated.
A triple-layer coating of these materials could capture different wavelengths of light.
"As these 'multiferroic' materials have unique electrical and magnetic properties and can absorb solar radiation, they are good for solar technology, and also potentially useful in devices like electronic sensors and flash memory drives," said Riad Nechache from the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS), Canada.
This coating can convert much more light into electricity than previous trials conducted with a single layer of the same material, pointed out the study.
The breakthrough may make it possible to replace silicon photovoltaic cells at the forefront of the highly competitive solar energy market, noted researchers.
The team is now working on how to add this coating to traditional single-crystal silicon solar cells currently available in the market.
This may increase maximum solar efficiency by 18 to 24 percent while also boosting cell longevity, said the team.
As this technology draws on a simplified structure and process, as well as abundant and stable materials, these new cells would be more powerful and cost less, the study added.
The study appeared in the journal Nature Photonics.