Wednesday, April 18, 2007

More ways to make cheaper solar cells

Here is a link to a new approach to improving solar cell performance. Since it had 3D and solar in its title, you can bet I dropped what I was doing and read it carefully. A few years ago I read about micropatterning and improving the output of silicon solar cells, so this seems like work that develops the concept. It is a neat idea; building micro-structures on the surface of the silicon cell traps more light and thereby boosts the cell output.

The MIT review had another clever idea about building solar cells that a friend sent me a link to a couple weeks ago. This one uses a different kind of microstructure on the bottom of the cell (photonic crystal) to redirect light, which might have bounced off the bottom surface of the cell and out, to travel through more of the bulk silicon material increasing the chance of generating power.

Both articles report on laboratory results, which can take a couple years to make it into commercial products, but they demonstrate new routes for reducing the cost of solar cells. All good. Even better, my 3D solar panel design can use either (or a hybrid combination) type of cell and further boost performance. :)


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