Researchers develop thin-film silicon solar cells

PTI Washington | Updated on October 15, 2011

An Indian-origin researcher-led team in Singapore claims to have exploited nanostructure technology to make a highly efficient and yet cheaper silicon solar cell.

Navab Singh, who led the team from Nanyang Technological University and A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics hopes that their new product would halve the cost of solar energy.

“To mitigate against reduced light absorption and carrier recombination in the amorphous silicon thin-film cells, we designed and fabricated the novel nanostructures on silicon surface,” he said.

The new thin-film silicon solar cells are designed to be made from cheaper, low-grade silicon. However it is able to generate electricity current close to that produced by traditional solar cells made from costly, quality silicon.

The nano-structured solar cells can produce a current of (34.3mA/cm2) — a world record for a silicon solar cell of its kind, say the researchers.

In fact, 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, says the team.

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.

Prof Cheng Tee Hiang, a team member, said improving the efficiency of low-cost solar cells is critical in encouraging the adoption of solar energy around the world.

“We are committed to develop the next generation of solar cells which are cheap, efficient and easy to manufacture, so as to enable solar energy to play a bigger role as a renewable resource,” he said.

Published on October 15, 2011

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