Scientists at the University of Manchester, UK, managed to find the causes of the phenomenon of "light degradation" of solar panels - and find ways to solve this problem. It has been worrying power engineers for about 40 years - the loss of battery efficiency due to this effect is only 2% per device, but on a global scale this is tantamount to the lost production of several nuclear power plants. Green energy is on the march and solving this problem is of fundamental importance.
Light degradation in a broad sense refers to a decrease in the generation of electricity from solar panels after they are in operation in real conditions, that is, under the light of our star. The key to the problem lies in the fluid structure of silicon from which the main components of the panels are made. It took nearly 300 large-scale studies to figure out exactly what was wrong with it.
The British applied the technology of deep-level transient spectroscopy and found that when silicon is heated, a kind of "trap" is formed - zones with special properties. Electrons with a short lifetime do not have time to leave them, which leads to a weakening of the total flux. And, conversely, in panels made of high quality silicon, charged particles have time to escape from traps, so such batteries show greater efficiency.
Scientists from Manchester managed to prove that the effect manifests itself only when silicon is heated and, probably, it is under the influence of sunlight. Because experiments with heating panels in the dark have shown that traps are eliminated, and the degradation effect can be reversed. But this is a topic for new research, not a ready-made methodology. However, power engineers are happy with such a result - after all, if the cause of the problem is known, all that remains is to find a suitable engineering solution.