C2ST Speakeasy: “Getting More Electricity Out of Sunlight” with Matthew Weimer

January 5, 2016

Geek Bar Beta
1941 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL, USA


Global warming is a reality that we will be forced to adapt to in the coming decades. A true solution will not come from one area; there is no silver bullet. Rather, lasting and significant change will come from a suite of modifications to our behavior, as well as technological improvements.

One area ripe for improvement is solar cell technology. Enough solar energy hits the surface of the earth in one hour to power the entire world for a full year. The trick, of course, is converting sun light into electricity. Current commercially available solar cells can only generate electricity from one portion of light, which drastically reduces the solar to electricity efficiency. The rest of the solar energy is wasted as heat or reflected back into space. Being able to generate more electricity from the same amount of light would require a solar cell to absorb light in more than one portion of the spectrum.

Recently, a new material, called an intermediate band gap solar cell, was purposed which would generate about 50% more electricity from the same sunlight. The boost in efficiency is accomplished by adding a second material in just the right amount. This talk will discuss recent research in making these novel intermediate band gap solar cells by a growth method that controls the placement of atoms on the sub nano-scale. This atomic control has led to solar cell material which has shown the ability to absorb two separate portions of sun light, thus allowing for a transformation in the way solar electricity is generated.

Event Details

C2ST Speakeasy is held on the first and third Tuesdays of every month. Attendance is free, but registration is strongly encouraged. To register, click HERE or on the “Get Tickets” button below. Seating is first come, first serve, and registration does not guarantee a seat.

People under 21 are welcome at Geek Bar until 9:00pm. (See Geek Bar’s age policy)

Food and beverages are available for purchase. (See menu)