MIT professor Gang Chen and his research team are exploring ways of texturing thin solar cells to increase energy output. They’ve found they can reduce the thickness of silicone cells by 90% while at the same time producing just as much light absorption as the traditional thicker cells.
Using overlapping lasers, they etch “inverted nano-pyramids” onto the surface of thin solar cells. The team discovered by carving upside down pyramid shapes into the material they could produce the same light absorption as a traditional silicon cell 30 times as thick.
Still in early stage research and development this method looks to be promising for manufactures of thin solar cell material. They’re using standard equipment and materials commonly used to fabricate thin solar cells. By increasing output and reducing materials it will be easier for manufacturers to cut costs which will hopefully reduce the retail prices for home solar installation.
While there are many methods for reducing materials and costs being researched and tested Chen says “”It’s hard to pick a winner,” but this approach has great promise. “We are pretty upbeat that this is a viable approach.”
More about Professor Chen’s research at MIT.
Photo Credit: Anastassios Mavrokefalos
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