Nanotechnology Now







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

Scientific breakthrough in rechargeable batteries: Researchers from Singapore and Québec Team Up to Develop Next-Generation Materials to Power Electronic Devices and Electric Vehicles February 28th, 2015

First detailed microscopy evidence of bacteria at the lower size limit of life: Berkeley Lab research provides comprehensive description of ultra-small bacteria February 28th, 2015

Leti to Offer Updates on Silicon Photonics Successes at OFC in LA February 27th, 2015

Moving molecule writes letters: Caging of molecules allows investigation of equilibrium thermodynamics February 27th, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

First detailed microscopy evidence of bacteria at the lower size limit of life: Berkeley Lab research provides comprehensive description of ultra-small bacteria February 28th, 2015

Warming up the world of superconductors: Clusters of aluminum metal atoms become superconductive at surprisingly high temperatures February 25th, 2015

SUNY Poly CNSE Researchers and Corporate Partners to Present Forty Papers at Globally Recognized Lithography Conference: SUNY Poly CNSE Research Group Awarded Both ‘Best Research Paper’ and ‘Best Research Poster’ at SPIE Advanced Lithography 2015 forum February 25th, 2015

European roadmap for graphene science and technology published February 25th, 2015

Discoveries

First detailed microscopy evidence of bacteria at the lower size limit of life: Berkeley Lab research provides comprehensive description of ultra-small bacteria February 28th, 2015

Leti to Offer Updates on Silicon Photonics Successes at OFC in LA February 27th, 2015

Moving molecule writes letters: Caging of molecules allows investigation of equilibrium thermodynamics February 27th, 2015

Untangling DNA with a droplet of water, a pipet and a polymer: With the 'rolling droplet technique,' a DNA-injected water droplet rolls like a ball over a platelet, sticking the DNA to the plate surface February 27th, 2015

Announcements

Scientific breakthrough in rechargeable batteries: Researchers from Singapore and Québec Team Up to Develop Next-Generation Materials to Power Electronic Devices and Electric Vehicles February 28th, 2015

First detailed microscopy evidence of bacteria at the lower size limit of life: Berkeley Lab research provides comprehensive description of ultra-small bacteria February 28th, 2015

Leti to Offer Updates on Silicon Photonics Successes at OFC in LA February 27th, 2015

Moving molecule writes letters: Caging of molecules allows investigation of equilibrium thermodynamics February 27th, 2015

Energy

In quest for better lithium-air batteries, chemists boost carbon's stability: Nanoparticle coatings improve stability, cyclability of '3DOm' carbon February 25th, 2015

New nanowire structure absorbs light efficiently: Dual-type nanowire arrays can be used in applications such as LEDs and solar cells February 25th, 2015

Learning by eye: Silicon micro-funnels increase the efficiency of solar cells February 25th, 2015

Magnetic nanoparticles enhance performance of solar cells X-ray study points the way to higher energy yields February 25th, 2015

Solar/Photovoltaic

New nanowire structure absorbs light efficiently: Dual-type nanowire arrays can be used in applications such as LEDs and solar cells February 25th, 2015

Learning by eye: Silicon micro-funnels increase the efficiency of solar cells February 25th, 2015

Magnetic nanoparticles enhance performance of solar cells X-ray study points the way to higher energy yields February 25th, 2015

Researchers enable solar cells to use more sunlight February 25th, 2015

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







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE