The scientific technique of singlet fission was first observed in glowing crystals nearly half a century ago, but now scientists are looking at it once again as a way to improve the efficiency of modern solar cells.
The process allows a single photon of light to release two electrons instead of the usual one, and a new paper published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters claims this could increase the rate of energy conversion in solar panels by as much as 30%.
Solar panels currently work by absorbing a photon of light and then creating a exciton, which splits into two electrons and is then harnessed in the panel as electricity. However, in singlet fission a highly charged photon can emit two excitons, and therefore four electrons, creating the possibility of a solar cell with a 40% efficiency.
In the early 60s and 70s, singlet fission was first described in order to explain the strange glow coming from various fluorescent organic crystals. However, the process was forgotten soon after.
Solar panels could become a third more effective with new technique