Gallium: Physicists came up with a way to drastically improve solar cell efficiency

Gallium, the element has some interesting properties and it melts and contracts at 85.6gallium degrees. Today, when combined with Indium and Tin it becomes an alloy called Galinstan which is often used in thermometers since the band on Mercury.

The main use for Gallium today is in manufacturing of semiconductors. The use of Gallium in semiconductors increases their functionality significantly over that of older technologies like

silicon based semiconductors. The raw material Gallium can be found in many other compounds as well, including all light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Gallium is a very rare mineral. Approximately 100 tons of raw Gallium is produced annually, primarily in China. It is found mainly in Aluminum, Zinc and Germanium Ores. The concentration is a maximum of 0.01 percent.

A few applications of Gallium include – Non-toxic mercury substitute, LEDs, Wafer, Electrical high-frequency components, Integrated circuits, Laser, Solar cells for powering satellites, Alloying additives, Liquid metal heat transfer compound, Fuel cells and Pharmaceuticals.

Gallium is included in three of our Rare, Strategic Metal ‘baskets’ – Basket A Key Industries, Basket B Solar and Energy and Basket D Defense and Aviation.

Below is an excellent article on a new use of Gallium in Solar Cell Design.

Gallium-Solar Panels

New Solar Cell Design Can Handle The Power Of 70,000 Suns

Physicists at North Carolina State say they’ve come up with a way to drastically improve solar cell efficiency.

Most solar panels are actually composed of a bunch of photovolatic cells stacked on top of each other.

The problem is that a lot of energy gets lost when the electrons hit the connective or “junction cells” that sit between each photovoltaic cell.

The researchers found that by adding a thin film of gallium arsenide to the junction cells, they could practically eliminate voltage loss.

Gallium_Solar_Article

Gallium aresnide is naturally more resistant to heat.

The new design would address one of the biggest problems concentrated photovoltaic [CPV] solar cells face: once solar energy is intensified to the equivalent of 700 “suns,” the rate of energy dissipated begins to accelerate.

But the new design is capable of handling 70,000 suns without significant entropy.

“…That is more than sufficient for practical purposes, since concentrating lenses are unlikely to create more than 4,000 or 5,000 suns worth of energy,” lead researcher Dr. Salah Bedair said in a release. “This discovery means that solar cell manufacturers can now create stacked cells that can handle these high-intensity solar energies without losing voltage at the connecting junctions, thus potentially improving conversion efficiency.”

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Source:
The above story is reprinted from an article published by Businessinsider. The original article was written by Rob Wile.
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