"We wanted to determine the geometry for the scattering layer that would give us optimal performance," Cheng Sun, a mechanical engineer and one of the creators of the new organic solar cell, said in a statement. "But with so many possibilities, it's difficult to know where to start, so we looked to laws of natural selection to guide us."
Sun and his colleagues' program simulated more than 20 generations of matings to come up with their final design. The program also mimicked the biological processes of mutation and an exchange of traits called crossing over.
The resulting design traps photons for three times as long as the Yablonovitch Limit, which describes how long a photon is likely to stay in a semiconducting material. Researchers have only been able to reach and break the Yablonovitch Limit in the last few years.
The engineers published their work Jan. 3 in the journal Scientific Reports.
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