In physics, the Shockley–Queisser Limit refers to the maximum theoretical efficiency of a solar cell using single p-n junction to collect power from the sun. The limit was set to 33.7%. This means every 100 watts of solar power received, only 33.7 watts converts to electricity.
Scientists from the Nano-Science Center at the Niels Bohr Institut, Denmark and the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, might have reset this limit. They showed that a single nanowire, which is a cylindrical structure with a diameter of about 10,000 part of a human hair, can concentrate the sunlight up to 15 times of the normal sun light intensity. The results are surprising and the potential for developing a new type of highly efficient solar cells is great.
The diameter of a nanowire crystal is few hundred times smaller than the wavelength of the light coming from the sun it can cause resonances in the intensity of light in and around nanowires. Thus, the resonances can give a concentrated sunlight, where the energy is converted, which can be used to give a higher conversion efficiency of the sun's energy.
However, it will take some years before production of solar cells consisting of nanowires becomes a reality.