Semiconductor nanoconductors can double the efficiency of solar cells

Research group at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) has conceived a new way to use semiconductor nanoconductors to design new ones solar cells which could potentially double the efficiency of today’s Si solar cells. Even better, the whole process is very cost effective.

“We have a new method of using gallium arsenide (GaAs) material in a very efficient way by nanostructuring, so we can make solar cells much more efficient using only a small part of the material commonly used“, Said in a statement Anjan Mukherjee, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Electronic Systems and chief developer of equipment.

Gallium arsenide (GaAs) has long been touted as the best material for the production of highly efficient solar cells due to its exceptional light absorption and electrical characteristics. It is mostly put into use in space solar panels.

However, these GaAs solar cells are extremely expensive to manufacture, leading to the search for methods that reduce the use of the material. Here come the nanowire structures. These elements can potentially improve the efficiency of solar cells compared to standard planar solar cells, while using less material.

By using GaAs in nanowire structures, the research team has found a new way to make a solar cell with an ultra-high power / weight ratio that is more than 10 times more efficient than any other solar cell.

Researchers are currently growing nanowires using a method called MBE (molecular beam epitaxy). This process cannot deliver materials in large quantities. However, by using an instrument on an industrial scale such as MOCVD (deposition of metal-organic vapors), there are opportunities to produce useful materials in large quantities.

Include these solar cells based on a nanowire the top of the Si cell has the power to improve efficiency of solar cells up to 40%. The study was published in ACS Photonics, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

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