Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

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

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Tech’s Contribution Includes Liten’s Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Leti’s Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

MIPT scientists revisit optical constants of ultrathin gold films October 20th, 2017

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Tech’s Contribution Includes Liten’s Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Leti’s Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

Long nanotubes make strong fibers: Rice University researchers advance characterization, purification of nanotube wires and films October 17th, 2017

Spinning strands hint at folding dynamics: Rice University lab uses magnetic beads to model microscopic proteins, polymers October 17th, 2017

Discoveries

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

MIPT scientists revisit optical constants of ultrathin gold films October 20th, 2017

Bringing the atomic world into full color: Researchers turn atomic force microscope measurements into color images October 19th, 2017

Announcements

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Tech’s Contribution Includes Liten’s Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Leti’s Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

MIPT scientists revisit optical constants of ultrathin gold films October 20th, 2017

Energy

New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater: Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions October 4th, 2017

Researchers set time limit for ultrafast perovskite solar cells September 22nd, 2017

Copper catalyst yields high efficiency CO2-to-fuels conversion: Berkeley Lab scientists discover critical role of nanoparticle transformation September 20th, 2017

Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene: Berkeley Lab advance is first demonstration of efficient, light-powered production of fuel via artificial photosynthesis September 19th, 2017

Solar/Photovoltaic

New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater: Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions October 4th, 2017

Researchers set time limit for ultrafast perovskite solar cells September 22nd, 2017

Copper catalyst yields high efficiency CO2-to-fuels conversion: Berkeley Lab scientists discover critical role of nanoparticle transformation September 20th, 2017

Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene: Berkeley Lab advance is first demonstration of efficient, light-powered production of fuel via artificial photosynthesis September 19th, 2017

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