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Thermodynamic efficiency limits for semiconductor solar cells with carrier multiplication

by Rolf Brendel, Jürgen H. Werner, Hans J. Queisser
Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells ()

Abstract

Our recent quantum efficiency measurements showed that more than one electron/hole pair per absorbed photon can be created in a solar cell. Thermodynamic consideration of carrier multiplication leads to new efficiency limits for photovoltaic energy conversion. An efficiency of 43% is theoretically possible for cells which are illuminated by the sun's unconcentrated black body radiation. For sun light of full concentration, the new limit is 85%. These ideal values are thermodynamically possible with a single semiconductor which makes optimum use of carrier multiplication and shows radiative recombination only. The theoretical description of the thermodynamics of radiative recombination in a cell with carrier multiplication leads us also to a novel mathematical description of the saturation current density.

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