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Two Queen's researchers have contributed to a significant breakthrough in solar technology. Their research has led to a new solar photovoltaic thermal (PVT) system that generates both electricity and heat.

Solar PVTs are normally made with crystal silicon cells which generate electricity, but little heat. Stephen Harrison and Joshua Pearce (Mechanical and Materials Engineering) designed and tested amorphous silicon cells in a PVT system. Their research shows increased heat generation because of higher operating temperatures and 10 per cent more solar electric output.

"These studies open up an entirely new application of amorphous silicon and make a highly-economic PVT possible," says Dr. Pearce. "We need both solar electricity and solar heating in Canada but we are running into 'roof real estate' issues. Now people can have both their solar electricity and solar heating combined in a nice tidy package."

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