7 January 2017

A Breakthrough at the UdeS One of the Top 10 Québec Science Discoveries of the Year

A miniature high-efficiency photovoltaic cell—a major achievement by a team from the Université de Shebrooke’s Interdisciplinary Institute for Technological Innovation (3ITand Sherbrooke startup Azastra Opto is among the top 10 discoveries of the year according to Québec Science.

Simon Fafard, Université de Sherbrooke

The cell, only a few millimetres in size, is able to convert up to 70% of a laser’s light output into electric current—as opposed to 15%-20% for “regular” cells.

This significant efficiency boost emerged from various innovations in terms of materials and microarchitecture. This new-generation cell consists of a semiconductor combining gallium and arsenic (GaAs)—instead of the typical silicon.

Professor Simon Fafard’s team then broke new ground in the structuring of the semiconductor. The team developed the semiconductor’s ability to “grow” into next-to-perfect crystals, rather than to be assembled as pie slices. The process, which is patent-pending, results in less energy loss.

The technology looks promising for various applications, such as the use of wireless power transmission to charge an airborne drone or as a power source unaffected by electromagnetic interference.

The discovery was published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, in February 2016.

Source: Québec Science
Photo credits: Jean-François Leblanc

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