Overcoming the bandgap limitation on solar cell materials Academic Article uri icon


  • The thermodynamic efficiency of a single junction solar cell is bounded by the Shockley-Queisser detailed balance limit at ∼30% [W. Shockley and H. J. Queisser, J. Appl. Phys. 32, 510 (1961)]. This maximal efficiency is considered achievable using a semiconductor within a restricted bandgap range of 1.1-1.5 eV. This work upends this assumption by demonstrating that the optimal material bandgap can be shifted to lower energies by placing selective reflectors around the solar cell. This technique opens new possibilities for lower bandgap materials to achieve the thermodynamic limit and to be effective in high efficiency solar cells.

publication date

  • January 1, 2012