Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Advance made in “thin film” solar cell technology

Chih-hung Chang, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Oregon State University, is developing new approaches to solar energy that may dramatically lower their cost while reducing waste and environmental impacts. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University)
Chih-hung Chang, an associate professor of chemical engineering at Oregon State University, is developing new approaches to solar energy that may dramatically lower their cost while reducing waste and environmental impacts. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University)

Abstract:
Researchers have made an important breakthrough in the use of continuous flow microreactors to produce thin film absorbers for solar cells - an innovative technology that could significantly reduce the cost of solar energy devices and reduce material waste.

Advance made in “thin film” solar cell technology

Corvallis, OR | Posted on April 21st, 2010

The advance was just reported in Current Applied Physics, a professional journal, by engineers from Oregon State University and Yeungnam University in Korea.

This is one of the first demonstrations that this type of technology, which is safer, faster and more economical than previous chemical solution approaches, could be used to continuously and rapidly deposit thin film absorbers for solar cells from such compounds as copper indium diselenide.

Previous approaches to use this compound - which is one of the leading photovoltaic alternatives to silicon-based solar energy devices - have depended on methods such as sputtering, evaporation, and electrodeposition. Those processes can be time consuming, or require expensive vacuum systems or exotic chemicals that raise production costs.

Chemical bath deposition is a low-cost deposition technique that was developed more than a century ago. It is normally performed as a batch process, but changes in the growth solution over time make it difficult to control thickness. The depletion of reactants also limits the achievable thickness.

The technology invented at OSU to deposit "nanostructure films" on various surfaces in a continuous flow microreactor, however, addresses some of these issues and makes the use of this process more commercially practical. A patent has been applied for on this approach, officials said.

"We've now demonstrated that this system can produce thin-film solar absorbers on a glass substrate in a short time, and that's quite significant," said Chih-hung Chang, an associate professor in the OSU School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering. "That's the first time this has been done with this new technique."

Further work is still needed on process control, testing of the finished solar cell, improving its efficiency to rival that of vacuum-based technology, and scaling up the process to a commercial application, Chang said.

Of some interest, researchers said, is that thin-film solar cells produced by applications such as this could ultimately be used in the creation of solar energy roofing systems. Conceptually, instead of adding solar panels on top of the roof of a residential or industrial building, the solar panel itself would become the roof, eliminating such traditional approaches as plywood and shingles.

"If we could produce roofing products that cost-effectively produced solar energy at the same time, that would be a game changer," Chang said. "Thin film solar cells are one way that might work. All solar applications are ultimately a function of efficiency, cost and environmental safety, and these products might offer all of that."

The research has been supported by the Process and Reaction Engineering Program of the National Science Foundation.

Related technology was also developed recently at OSU using nanostructure films as coatings for eyeglasses, which may cost less and work better than existing approaches. In that case, they would help capture more light, reduce glare and also reduce exposure to ultraviolet light. Scientists believe applications in cameras and other types of lenses are also possible.

More work such as this is expected to emerge from the new Oregon Process Innovation Center for Sustainable Solar Cell Manufacturing, a $2.7 million initiative based at OSU that will include the efforts of about 20 faculty from OSU, the University of Oregon, Portland State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Organizers of that initiative say they are aiming for "a revolution in solar cell processing and manufacturing" that might drop costs by as much as 50 percent while being more environmentally sensitive. In the process, they hope to create new jobs and industries in the Pacific Northwest.

####

About Oregon State University
About the OSU College of Engineering: The OSU College of Engineering is among the nation’s largest and most productive engineering programs. In the past six years, the College has more than doubled its research expenditures to $27.5 million by emphasizing highly collaborative research that solves global problems, spins out new companies, and produces opportunity for students through hands-on learning.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contact
David Stauth
541-737-0787

Source
Chih-hung Chang
541-737-8548

Copyright © Oregon State University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Tuning into quantum: Scientists unlock signal frequency control of precision atom qubits July 16th, 2018

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication July 13th, 2018

UMBC researchers develop nanoparticles to reduce internal bleeding caused by blast trauma July 13th, 2018

Oxford Instruments’ 22 Tesla superconducting magnet system commissioned at the UAM, making it the most intense magnetic field available outside a large international facility July 12th, 2018

Thin films

New optical sensor can determine if molecules are left or right 'handed' June 13th, 2018

Organic solar cells reach record efficiency, benchmark for commercialization April 23rd, 2018

High efficiency solar power conversion allowed by a novel composite material: A composite thin film developed at INRS improves significantly solar cells' power conversion efficiency April 10th, 2018

Researchers develop nanoparticle films for high-density data storage: April 3rd, 2018

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Tuning into quantum: Scientists unlock signal frequency control of precision atom qubits July 16th, 2018

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication July 13th, 2018

Carbon is the new black: Researchers use carbon nanotubes to develop clothing that can double as batteries July 10th, 2018

High-power electronics keep their cool with new heat-conducting crystals July 6th, 2018

Possible Futures

Tuning into quantum: Scientists unlock signal frequency control of precision atom qubits July 16th, 2018

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication July 13th, 2018

UMBC researchers develop nanoparticles to reduce internal bleeding caused by blast trauma July 13th, 2018

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides July 13th, 2018

Announcements

Tuning into quantum: Scientists unlock signal frequency control of precision atom qubits July 16th, 2018

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication July 13th, 2018

UMBC researchers develop nanoparticles to reduce internal bleeding caused by blast trauma July 13th, 2018

Barium ruthenate: A high-yield, easy-to-handle perovskite catalyst for the oxidation of sulfides July 13th, 2018

Energy

NIST Researchers Simulate Simple Logic for Nanofluidic Computing June 30th, 2018

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Physicists devise method to reveal how light affects materials: The new method adds to the understanding of the fundamental laws governing the interaction of electrons and light June 15th, 2018

Tripling the Energy Storage of Lithium-Ion Batteries: Scientists have synthesized a new cathode material from iron fluoride that surpasses the capacity limits of traditional lithium-ion batteries June 14th, 2018

Research partnerships

Nano-kirigami: 'Paper-cut' provides model for 3D intelligent nanofabrication July 13th, 2018

Leti and Soitec Launch a New Substrate Innovation Center to Develop Engineered Substrate Solutions: Industry-inclusive hub promotes early collaboration and learning from substrate to system level July 11th, 2018

Leti & Partners Launch Pilot Program to Assess New Perception Sensors for Autonomous Vehicles July 5th, 2018

A refined magnetic sense: Algorithms and hardware developed in the context of quantum computation are shown to be useful for quantum-enhanced sensing of magnetic fields July 2nd, 2018

Solar/Photovoltaic

Northwestern researchers achieve unprecedented control of polymer grids: Materials could find applications in water purification, solar energy storage, body armor June 22nd, 2018

Team achieves two-electron chemical reactions using light energy, gold May 15th, 2018

Hematene joins parade of new 2D materials: Rice University-led team extracts 3-atom-thick sheets from common iron oxide May 8th, 2018

Harvesting clean hydrogen fuel through artificial photosynthesis May 3rd, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project