Identifying optimal photovoltaic technologies for underwater applications

Jason A. Röhr, B. Edward Sartor, Joel N. Duenow, Zilun Qin, Juan Meng, Jason Lipton, Stephen A. Maclean, Udo Römer, Michael P. Nielsen, Suling Zhao, Jaemin Kong, Matthew O. Reese, Myles A. Steiner, N. J. Ekins-Daukes, André D. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Improving solar energy collection in aquatic environments would allow for superior environmental monitoring and remote sensing, but the identification of optimal photovoltaic technologies for such applications is challenging as evaluation requires either field deployment or access to large water tanks. Here, we present a simple bench-top characterization technique that does not require direct access to water and therefore circumvents the need for field testing during initial trials of development. Employing LEDs to simulate underwater solar spectra at various depths, we compare Si and CdTe solar cells, two commercially available technologies, with GaInP cells, a technology with a wide bandgap close to ideal for underwater solar harvesting. We use this method to show that while Si cells outperform both CdTe and GaInP cells under terrestrial AM1.5G solar irradiance, CdTe and GaInP cells outperform Si cells at depths >2 m, with GaInP cells operating with underwater efficiencies approaching 54%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104531
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 15 2022


  • Applied sciences
  • Engineering
  • Water resources engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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