Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Renewable energy - The tarte tatin throws a new light on photovoltaics

Layers of zinc oxide seen through an electron microscope. On the left: natural pyramid structure; on the right: structure when grown on a mould (height of images: 5 microns). © PV-LAB, EPFL/SNSF Copies or offprints must include the author’s name and may not be used for commercial purposes
Layers of zinc oxide seen through an electron microscope. On the left: natural pyramid structure; on the right: structure when grown on a mould (height of images: 5 microns). © PV-LAB, EPFL/SNSF Copies or offprints must include the author’s name and may not be used for commercial purposes

Abstract:
Do better with less. That is the challenge the researchers of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have set for themselves, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Federal Office of Energy. Their specialty: manufacturing solar cells that are one thousand times thinner than conventional cells. In order to boost the output of the cells, they have developed a new nanopatterning technique.

Renewable energy - The tarte tatin throws a new light on photovoltaics

Switzerland | Posted on September 9th, 2011

Even though silicon is one of the most abundant elements, the energy required to make silicon from sand is immense. It is for this reason, but also to reduce manufacturing costs, that Professor Christophe Ballif and his team from the Photovoltaics and Thin-Film Electronics Laboratory at the EPFL have been working for several years on thin-film silicon solar cells that are a thousand times thinner than conventional cells.

Better light absorption
There's just one catch: the thinner the cells, the less they absorb the rays of the sun and the less electricity they produce. So researchers are trying to trap light in the thin silicon layers to increase their absorption. Traditionally, thin layers of zinc oxide—a material that is very abundant, completely non-toxic, and that grows in the form of small pyramid-shaped crystals—are used for this purpose. These crystals scatter light efficiently into the underlying silicon layer. With such zinc oxide layers, even a new world record cell efficiency was achieved.

Reducing costs

But scientists are attempting to beat this record. "It is difficult to modify the natural pyramidal shape of these crystals in order to obtain even better light scattering," explains researcher Corsin Battaglia, "so we had the idea to force the crystals to grow on a different support, an inverted mould with the desired structure." The idea is as ingenious as it is simple. Once the thin layer of zinc oxide is deposited on the mould all that needs to be done is to "demould" it—as you would a tarte tatin, for example—to obtain a film with the desired structure. This procedure, described in the September edition of the journal Nature Photonics, not only increases the amount of light that is trapped, thereby increasing output, but it also has the potential to reduce the cost of the cells because of its compatibility with mass production. These are interesting arguments at a time when photovoltaics is seeking to produce electricity at a lower price than the current grid price.

Full bibliographic informationCorsin Battaglia, Jordi Escarré, Karin Söderström, Mathieu Charrière, Matthieu Despeisse, Franz-Josef Haug and Christophe Ballif (2011). Nanomoulding of transparent zinc oxide electrodes for efficient light trapping in solar cells. Nature Photonics online. doi: 10.1038/NPHOTON.2011.198, (available in PDF format from the SNSF; e-mail:

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Philippe Trinchan
+41 (0)31 3082222


Dr. Corsin Battaglia
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne
Photovoltaics and Thin-Film Electronics Laboratory
Institute of Microtechnology
Rue A.-L. Breguet 2
CH-2000 Neuchâtel
Tel.: +41 (0)32 718 33 34
E-mail:
Internet: http://pvlab.epfl.ch

Copyright © AlphaGalileo

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

Simple attraction: Researchers control protein release from nanoparticles without encapsulation: U of T Engineering discovery stands to improve reliability and fabrication process for treatments to conditions such as spinal cord damage and stroke May 28th, 2016

Scientists illuminate a hidden regulator in gene transcription: New super-resolution technique visualizes important role of short-lived enzyme clusters May 27th, 2016

Doubling down on Schrödinger's cat May 27th, 2016

Deep Space Industries and SFL selected to provide satellites for HawkEye 360’s Pathfinder mission: The privately-funded space-based global wireless signal monitoring system will be developed by Deep Space Industries and UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory May 26th, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Scientists illuminate a hidden regulator in gene transcription: New super-resolution technique visualizes important role of short-lived enzyme clusters May 27th, 2016

Doubling down on Schrödinger's cat May 27th, 2016

Harnessing solar and wind energy in one device could power the 'Internet of Things' May 26th, 2016

Thermal modification of wood and a complex study of its properties by magnetic resonance May 26th, 2016

Discoveries

Simple attraction: Researchers control protein release from nanoparticles without encapsulation: U of T Engineering discovery stands to improve reliability and fabrication process for treatments to conditions such as spinal cord damage and stroke May 28th, 2016

Scientists illuminate a hidden regulator in gene transcription: New super-resolution technique visualizes important role of short-lived enzyme clusters May 27th, 2016

Doubling down on Schrödinger's cat May 27th, 2016

Finding a new formula for concrete: Researchers look to bones and shells as blueprints for stronger, more durable concrete May 26th, 2016

Announcements

Simple attraction: Researchers control protein release from nanoparticles without encapsulation: U of T Engineering discovery stands to improve reliability and fabrication process for treatments to conditions such as spinal cord damage and stroke May 28th, 2016

Scientists illuminate a hidden regulator in gene transcription: New super-resolution technique visualizes important role of short-lived enzyme clusters May 27th, 2016

Doubling down on Schrödinger's cat May 27th, 2016

Deep Space Industries and SFL selected to provide satellites for HawkEye 360’s Pathfinder mission: The privately-funded space-based global wireless signal monitoring system will be developed by Deep Space Industries and UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory May 26th, 2016

Energy

Harnessing solar and wind energy in one device could power the 'Internet of Things' May 26th, 2016

Gigantic ultrafast spin currents: Scientists from TU Wien (Vienna) are proposing a new method for creating extremely strong spin currents. They are essential for spintronics, a technology that could replace today's electronics May 25th, 2016

Light can 'heal' defects in new solar cell materials: Defects in some new electronic materials can be removed by making ions move under illumination May 24th, 2016

Technique improves the efficacy of fuel cells: Research demonstrates a new phase transition from metal to ionic conductor May 18th, 2016

Solar/Photovoltaic

Harnessing solar and wind energy in one device could power the 'Internet of Things' May 26th, 2016

Light can 'heal' defects in new solar cell materials: Defects in some new electronic materials can be removed by making ions move under illumination May 24th, 2016

This 'nanocavity' may improve ultrathin solar panels, video cameras and more May 16th, 2016

New research shows how silver could be the key to gold-standard flexible gadgets: Silver nanowires are an ideal material for current and future flexible touch-screen technologies May 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