MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Illustration of a new technique to eke more power out of solar cells. Owing to physical limits, the maximum amount of sunlight falling on a solar cell that can be converted to electricity is only 34 percent. However, researchers at Warwick University in the UK have demonstrated how this might be overcome, boosting the efficiency of solar cell materials. They pressed the conductive tip of an atomic force microscope into the material, which squeezed and deformed individual crystals of strontium titanate (SrTiO3), titanium dioxide (TiO2), and silicon (Si). They found that in all three the deformation increased the photovoltaic effect.
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