Researchers in Singapore have exploited advanced nanostructure technology to make a highly efficient and yet cheaper silicon solar cell. With this development, the researchers hope that the cost of solar energy can be halved.
Developed jointly by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics (IME), the new thin-film silicon solar cells are designed to be made from cheaper, low grade silicon. However it is able to generate electricity currents close to that produced by traditional solar cells made from costly, high quality silicon.
The new NTU-A*STAR nano-structured solar cells can produce a current of (34.3mA/cm2) a world record for a silicon solar cell of its kind.
This is made possible by creating a unique texture using nanostructures which is thousands of times smaller than human hair on the surface of the solar cell.
The resulting electricity current output is close to those of traditional cells (40mA/cm2). Conventional thin film solar cells usually produce about half of the current that traditional cells produce.
Adoption of solar energy around the world is hindered by the high cost of traditional solar panels, partially due to it being made from high grade crystalline bulk silicon.
Using low-grade amorphous (shapeless) silicon thin film that has no texture which is over 100 times thinner addresses the material cost issue, but it is not as effective in converting sunlight to electricity, thus producing less energy.
The newly developed nanostructure method, which creates a unique texture on the surface of amorphous silicon, improves the Power Conversion Efficiency (PCE) of the thin film silicon cell and so increases the energy output.
The lead of the project from IME, Dr Navab Singh, Senior Scientist of IME's NanoElectronics Programme, said: "To mitigate against reduced light absorption and carrier recombination in the amorphous silicon thin film
|Contact: Lester Kok|
Nanyang Technological University