A Possible Alternative to Silicon-Based Solar Cells Is Shown to Be More Efficient

silicon-based solar panels
Researchers at KTH and Siberian Federal University in Russia used high-precision calculations to examine, for the first time, the electronic and optical properties of both single- and multi-layer films made of the material. (photo: Andreas Gücklhorn)

A possible alternative to silicon-based solar panels has been shown to convert solar energy into electricity more efficiently, reports KTH Professor Hans Ågren. He and researchers from Russia, South Korea and China recently co-published a study of the material Palladium diselenide.

Palladium diselenide (PdSe2), has only recently been more closely studied. It has already been shown to work well in photocatalysis, a process of dividing water and hydrogen when exposed to sunlight, which can be used to produce biofuels.

In the observations reported in the American Physical Review, Ågren and co-authors show that PdSe2 can absorb a wider spectrum of solar energy compared to silicon-based materials, allowing a higher conversion rate of solar energy to electricity.

Researchers at KTH and Siberian Federal University in Russia used high-precision calculations to examine, for the first time, the electronic and optical properties of both single- and multi-layer films made of the material.

Ågren says it is too soon to say how well PdSe2 would perform in an actual solar cell application. “Technically speaking, the studies are at an early stage,” he says. “So far, only the qualitative advantages can be stated.”

He says research on two-dimensional materials has exploded in recent years, particularly with regard to chalcogenides. “Our research on two-dimensional compounds between precious metals and such chalcogenides has resulted in us being able to optimize two-dimensional structures. This is done, for example, by doping and using different substrates. This means that a wide wavelength range of the solar spectrum can be utilized if the material is used for capturing solar energy.”

The study also involved researchers from Kyungpook National University, South Korea, and Henan University, People’s Republic of China.