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Next Generation Photovoltaics: High Efficiency through Full Spectrum Utilization (Series in Optics and Optoelectronics)

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This book results from a meeting that took place in Cercedilla, Madrid, Spain in March 2002. The meeting was about new ideas that could lead us to better use of the solar spectrum with the ultimate goal of achieving superior photovoltaic devices and, consequently, a reduction in their price. The meeting, despite being short, was so fruitful and intense that it was considered that the concepts discussed there should be preserved and made accessible to third parties in book form.

The result is a book that covers a variety of concepts: the economics of photovoltaics, thermodynamics, multi-junction solar cells, thermophotovoltaics, the application of low dimensional structures to photovoltaics, optics and technology. Time will tell whether many of these ideas and concepts meet expectations. For the moment, they are presented here to stimulate other researchers.

Thanks to all the people that attended that meeting and thanks, particularly, to those that accepted the challenge of writing their chapter. Thanks also to the Polytechnic University of Madrid for hosting the meeting and to the European Commission, to the Spanish ‘Ministerio de Educaci´on y Cultura’ and to ISOFOTON for providing financial support. And many thanks to the Institute of Physics Publishing and to Tom Spicer and the team in particular for publishing this book, for their patience in receiving the manuscripts and for their careful printing.

We are sure that the contributors also wish to acknowledge their families for allowing them some spare time to contribute to this book and, in their name, we allow ourselves to do so.

Although photovoltaics are regarded by many as the most likely candidate for long term sustainable energy production, their implementation has been restricted by the high costs involved. Nevertheless, the theoretical limit on photovoltaic energy conversion efficiency-above 85%-suggests that there is room for substantial improvement of current commercially available solar cells, both silicon and thin-film based. Current research efforts are focused on implementing novel concepts to produce a new generation of low-cost, high-performance photovoltaics that make improved use of the solar spectrum.

Featuring contributions from pioneers of next generation photovoltaic research, Next Generation Photovoltaics: High Efficiency through Full Spectrum Utilization presents a comprehensive account of the current state-of-the-art in all aspects of the field. The book first discusses topics, such as multi-junction solar cells (the method closest to commercialization), quantum dot solar cells, hot carrier solar cells, multiple quantum well solar cells, and thermophotovoltaics. The final two chapters of the book consider the materials, fabrication methods, and concentrator optics used for advanced photovoltaic cells. This book will be an essential reference for graduate students and researchers working with solar cell technology.

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