Do solar cells harness ultraviolet and/or infrared radiation as well as visible light?



  1. 0 Votes

    Yes, to an extent.  Currently most photovoltaic cells are made of silicon that has been mixed with small amounts of other, more conductive elements such as phosphorus, copper, and boron.  While this type of simiconductor will absorb many different wavelengths of light, not all wavelengths will have enough energy to alter the semiconductor’s electron pairs, thus creating conductivity. Instead, they will just pass through the solar cells, unused.  While visible light may create a majority of the energy, other light will be absorbed as well.  This is called band gap energy.  Research has been conducted in the past to find a way to allow more light to be absorbed.  For example, in 2002, researchers at Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory learned that indium nitride could potentially convert the full spectrum of sunlight, from ultraviolet to infrared, to produce more electrical current.  Other options at this time, however, would be much more costly than the current use of silicon.

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