Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Semiconductor manufacturing technique holds promise for solar energy

A flexible array of gallium arsenide solar cells. Gallium arsenide and other compound semiconductors are more efficient than the more commonly used silicon. Photo courtesy John Rogers
A flexible array of gallium arsenide solar cells. Gallium arsenide and other compound semiconductors are more efficient than the more commonly used silicon. Photo courtesy John Rogers

Abstract:
Thanks to a new semiconductor manufacturing method pioneered at the University of Illinois, the future of solar energy just got brighter

Semiconductor manufacturing technique holds promise for solar energy

Champaign, IL | Posted on May 20th, 2010

Although silicon is the industry standard semiconductor in most electronic devices, including the photovoltaic cells that solar panels use to convert sunlight into energy, it is hardly the most efficient material available. For example, the semiconductor gallium arsenide and related compound semiconductors offer nearly twice the efficiency as silicon in solar devices, yet they are rarely used in utility-scale applications because of their high manufacturing cost.

U. of I. professors John Rogers and Xiuling Li explored lower-cost ways to manufacture thin films of gallium arsenide that also allowed versatility in the types of devices they could be incorporated into. "If you can reduce substantially the cost of gallium arsenide and other compound semiconductors, then you could expand their range of applications," said Rogers, the Lee J. Flory Founder Chair in Engineering Innovation, and a professor of materials science and engineering and of chemistry.

Typically, gallium arsenide is deposited in a single thin layer on a small wafer. Either the desired device is made directly on the wafer, or the semiconductor-coated wafer is cut up into chips of the desired size. The Illinois group decided to deposit multiple layers of the material on a single wafer, creating a layered, "pancake" stack of gallium arsenide thin films.

"If you grow 10 layers in one growth, you only have to load the wafer one time," said Li, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. "If you do this in 10 growths, loading and unloading with temperature ramp-up and ramp-down take a lot of time. If you consider what is required for each growth - the machine, the preparation, the time, the people - the overhead saving our approach offers is a significant cost reduction."

Next the researchers individually peel off the layers and transfer them. To accomplish this, the stacks alternate layers of aluminum arsenide with the gallium arsenide. Bathing the stacks in a solution of acid and an oxidizing agent dissolves the layers of aluminum arsenide, freeing the individual thin sheets of gallium arsenide. A soft stamp-like device picks up the layers, one at a time from the top down, for transfer to another substrate - glass, plastic or silicon, depending on the application. Then the wafer can be reused for another growth.

"By doing this we can generate much more material more rapidly and more cost effectively," Rogers said. "We're creating bulk quantities of material, as opposed to just the thin single-layer manner in which it is typically grown."

Freeing the material from the wafer also opens the possibility of flexible, thin-film electronics made with gallium arsenide or other high-speed semiconductors. "To make devices that can conform but still retain high performance, that's significant," Li said.

In a paper to be published online May 20 in the journal Nature, the group describes its methods and demonstrates three types of devices using gallium arsenide chips manufactured in multilayer stacks: light sensors, high-speed transistors and solar cells. The authors also provide a detailed cost comparison.

Another advantage of the multilayer technique is the release from area constraints, especially important for solar cells. As the layers are removed from the stack, they can be laid out side-by-side on another substrate to produce a much larger surface area, whereas the typical single-layer process limits area to the size of the wafer.

"For photovoltaics, you want large area coverage to catch as much sunlight as possible. In an extreme case we might grow enough layers to have 10 times the area of the conventional route," Rogers said.

"You really multiply the area coverage, and by a similar multiplier you reduce the cost, while at the same time eliminating the consumption of the wafer," he said.

Among the paper's co-authors are two scientists from Semprius Inc., a North Carolina-based startup company that is beginning to use this technique to manufacture solar cells. A shift from silicon-based panels to more efficient gallium arsenide models could make solar power a more cost-effective form of alternative energy.

Next, the group plans to explore more potential device applications and other semiconductor materials that could adapt to multilayer growth.

The Department of Energy and National Science Foundation-funded team also includes U. of I. postdoctoral researchers Jongseung Yoon, Sungjin Jo and Inhwa Jung; students Ik Su Chun and Hoon-Sik Kin; and electrical and computer engineering professor James Coleman, along with Ungyu Paik, of Hanyang University in Seoul, and Semprius scientists Matthew Meitl and Etienne Menard.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Liz Ahlberg
Physical Sciences Editor
217-244-1073

Copyright © University of Illinois

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

Oxford Instruments and Dresden High Magnetic Field Laboratory collaborate to develop HTS magnet technology components for high field superconducting magnet systems June 29th, 2016

Texas A&M Chemist Says Trapped Electrons To Blame For Lack Of Battery Efficiency: Forget mousetraps — today’s scientists will get the cheese if they manage to build a better battery June 28th, 2016

Building a smart cardiac patch: 'Bionic' cardiac patch could one day monitor and respond to cardiac problems June 28th, 2016

New, better way to build circuits for world's first useful quantum computers June 28th, 2016

Thin films

Novel capping strategy improves stability of perovskite nanocrystals: Study addresses instability issues with organometal-halide perovskites, a promising class of materials for solar cells, LEDs, and other applications June 13th, 2016

New nanomaterial offers promise in bendable, wearable electronic devices: Electroplated polymer makes transparent, highly conductive, ultrathin film June 13th, 2016

Perovskite solar cells surpass 20 percent efficiency: EPFL researchers are pushing the limits of perovskite solar cell performance by exploring the best way to grow these crystals June 13th, 2016

NRL develops new low-defect method to nitrogen dope graphene resulting in tunable bandstructure June 6th, 2016

Possible Futures

Texas A&M Chemist Says Trapped Electrons To Blame For Lack Of Battery Efficiency: Forget mousetraps — today’s scientists will get the cheese if they manage to build a better battery June 28th, 2016

Building a smart cardiac patch: 'Bionic' cardiac patch could one day monitor and respond to cardiac problems June 28th, 2016

New, better way to build circuits for world's first useful quantum computers June 28th, 2016

Yale researchers’ technology turns wasted heat into power June 27th, 2016

Academic/Education

JPK’s NanoWizard® AFM and ForceRobot® systems are being used in the field of medical diagnostics in the Supersensitive Molecular Layer Laboratory of POSTECH in Korea June 21st, 2016

Weizmann Institute of Science Presents: Weizmann Wonder Wander - 4G - is Online June 21st, 2016

NanoLabNL boosts quality of research facilities as Dutch Toekomstfonds invests firmly June 10th, 2016

The Institute for Transfusion Medicine at the University Hospital of Duisburg-Essen in Germany uses the ZetaView from Particle Metrix to quantify extracellular vesicles June 7th, 2016

Chip Technology

New, better way to build circuits for world's first useful quantum computers June 28th, 2016

GraphExeter illuminates bright new future for flexible lighting devices June 23rd, 2016

Soft decoupling of organic molecules on metal June 23rd, 2016

Particle zoo in a quantum computer: First experimental quantum simulation of particle physics phenomena June 23rd, 2016

Announcements

Oxford Instruments and Dresden High Magnetic Field Laboratory collaborate to develop HTS magnet technology components for high field superconducting magnet systems June 29th, 2016

Texas A&M Chemist Says Trapped Electrons To Blame For Lack Of Battery Efficiency: Forget mousetraps — today’s scientists will get the cheese if they manage to build a better battery June 28th, 2016

Building a smart cardiac patch: 'Bionic' cardiac patch could one day monitor and respond to cardiac problems June 28th, 2016

New, better way to build circuits for world's first useful quantum computers June 28th, 2016

Energy

Yale researchers’ technology turns wasted heat into power June 27th, 2016

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

Researchers discover new chemical sensing technique: Technique allows sharper detail -- and more information -- with near infrared light June 24th, 2016

FEI and University of Liverpool Announce QEMSCAN Research Initiative: University of Liverpool will utilize FEI’s QEMSCAN technology to gain a better insight into oil and gas reserves & potentially change the approach to evaluating them June 22nd, 2016

Solar/Photovoltaic

Nanoscientists develop the 'ultimate discovery tool': Rapid discovery power is similar to what gene chips offer biology June 25th, 2016

New generation of high-efficiency solar thermal absorbers developed June 20th, 2016

Novel capping strategy improves stability of perovskite nanocrystals: Study addresses instability issues with organometal-halide perovskites, a promising class of materials for solar cells, LEDs, and other applications June 13th, 2016

Perovskite solar cells surpass 20 percent efficiency: EPFL researchers are pushing the limits of perovskite solar cell performance by exploring the best way to grow these crystals June 13th, 2016

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




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic