Israeli scientists at Ben Gurion University have made a major breakthrough in the advancement of solar power which will allow the sun’s energy to be more easily converted for use in batteries. This marks yet another example of Israeli scientists and academia taking the lead in the advancement of scientific research.
Solar energy, in particular, has always been a field of importance in Israel. With few, if any, natural resources, the country has always had plenty of sun. Solar powered boilers for heating water dot the rooftops of buildings across Israel.
But converting the power of the sun into electricity for us by power plants in place of fossil fuels has not been viable. At least not until now, hopefully that is.
Ben Gurion University doctoral fellow Heylal Mashaal and his supervisor Professor Jeffrey Gordon of the Alexandre Yersin Department of Solar Energy & Environmental Physics at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research have resolved a decades-old problem in establishing nature’s fundamental upper limit for solar power conversion efficiency – the so-called gold standard in the field of the solar energy sciences.
Mashaal and Gordon recently published their findings in the premier journal Optics Letters under the title Basic Limit for the Efficiency of Coherence-Limited Solar Power Conversion.
The first challenge they tackled was deriving this basic efficiency bound for any degree of optical concentration or angular confinement of the converter’s radiative emission. The second aspect constituted deriving how this efficiency bound is affected when the converter can only process spatially coherent radiation – inspired by the new tantalizing paradigm of ultra-small rectifying antennas for solar power conversion (rectifying here refers to converting AC to DC electricity).
In the process, Mashaal and Gordon derived the basic trade off between the maximum size of an individual coherent solar converter unit and the maximum possible efficiency at which it can operate. Their results provide long-awaited benchmarks for researchers pursuing nano-antennas and innovative rectification schemes for solar power conversion, as well as shedding new light on quantifying the ultimate efficiency limits of photovoltaic and solar heat engine schemes.