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December 31st, 2007

Nanotechnology aids large-area solar cell

Abstract:
A scientist at Israel's Bar-Ilan University claims that he has managed to create a solar cell 100 times bigger than a typical solar cell, using nanotechnology methods. Professor Arie Zaban, head of Bar-Ilan University's Nanotechnology Institute, is an expert in photovoltaics. In a recently patented technique, Professor Zaban demonstrated how metallic wires mounted on conductive glass can form the basis of solar cells with efficiency similar to that of conventional, silicon-based cells, but that are much cheaper to produce.

While Professor Zaban's earlier efforts produced photovoltaic cells one square centimeter in size, he has now achieved a cell measuring 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters, which he claimed would boost the technique's usefulness in producing commercial amounts of solar power. "Initially, we created linked arrays of very small cells, which led to a loss of efficiency because the sunlight hitting the space between the cells was not converted to electricity," Professor Zaban said. Professor Zaban said the cell is now a practical choice for solar energy production. "We've found a way to produce platinum nanodots  tiny crystals measuring only a few nanometers in diameter," Professor Zaban said, adding that this highly reactive metal is an important part of his solar cell's operation. "Thanks to this technique  now under consideration for a patent  we reduce the amount of platinum needed by a factor of 40." In previous research, Professor Zaban developed a low-cost method of depositing semiconductor material in a sponge-like array on top of flexible plastic sheets. Key to his system is the use of an organic dye that allows the semiconductor, transparent in its natural form, to absorb light.

Source:
eetimes.com

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