Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New World Record For Efficiency For Solar Cells; Inexpensive To Manufacture

Date:
May 17, 2008
Source:
Eindhoven University of Technology
Summary:
Scientists have improved the efficiency of an important type of solar cell from 21.9 to 23.2 percent (a relative improvement of 6 per cent). The efficiency improvement is achieved by the use of an ultra-thin aluminum oxide layer at the front of the cell, and it brings a breakthrough in the use of solar energy a step closer. The costs of applying the thin layer of aluminum oxide are expected to be relatively low.

Physicist have improved the efficiency of an important type of solar cell from 21.9 to 23.2 percent (a relative improvement of 6 per cent). This is a new world record.
Credit: iStockphoto/Mark Evans

Physicist Bram Hoex and colleagues at Eindhoven University of Technology, together with the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, have improved the efficiency of an important type of solar cell from 21.9 to 23.2 percent (a relative improvement of 6 per cent). This new world record is being presented on Wednesday May 14 at a major solar energy conference in San Diego.

Related Articles


The efficiency improvement is achieved by the use of an ultra-thin aluminum oxide layer at the front of the cell, and it brings a breakthrough in the use of solar energy a step closer.

An improvement of more than 1 per cent (in absolute terms) may at first glance appear modest, but it can enable solar cell manufacturers to greatly increase the performance of their products. This is because higher efficiency is a very effective way of reducing the cost price of solar energy. The costs of applying the thin layer of aluminum oxide are expected to be relatively low. This will mean a significant reduction in the cost of producing solar electricity.

Ultra-thin

Hoex was able to achieve the increase in efficiency by depositing an ultra-thin layer (approximately 30 nanometer) of aluminum oxide on the front of a crystalline silicon solar cell. This layer has an unprecedented high level of built-in negative charges, through which the -- normally significant -- energy losses at the surface are almost entirely eliminated. Of all sunlight falling on these cells, 23.2 per cent is now converted into electrical energy. This was formerly 21.9 per cent, which means a 6 per cent improvement in relative terms.

Dutch company OTB Solar

Hoex gained his PhD last week at the Applied Physics department of the TU/e with this research project. He was supported in the Plasma & Materials Processing (PMP) research group by professor Richard van de Sanden and associate professor Erwin Kessels. This group specializes in plasma deposition of extremely thin layers. The Dutch company OTB Solar has been a licensee of one of these processes since 2001, which it is using in its solar cell production lines. Numerous solar cell manufacturers around the world use equipment supplied by OTB Solar.

The ultra-thin aluminum oxide layer developed in the PMP group may lead to a technology innovation in the solar cell world. A number of major solar cell manufacturers have already shown interest.

Promising

Solar cells have for years looked like a highly promising way to partly solve the energy problem. The sun rises day after day, and solar cells can conveniently be installed on surfaces with no other useful purpose. Solar energy also offers opportunities for use in developing countries, many of which have high levels of sunshine. Within ten to fifteen years the price of electricity generated by solar cells is expected to be comparable to that of 'conventional' electricity from fossil fuels.

This technology breakthrough now brings the industrial application of this type of high-efficiency solar cell closer.

Part of Hoex's PhD research project was paid for by three Dutch ministries: Economic Affairs; Education, Culture and Science; and Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Eindhoven University of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Eindhoven University of Technology. "New World Record For Efficiency For Solar Cells; Inexpensive To Manufacture." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080514154702.htm>.
Eindhoven University of Technology. (2008, May 17). New World Record For Efficiency For Solar Cells; Inexpensive To Manufacture. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080514154702.htm
Eindhoven University of Technology. "New World Record For Efficiency For Solar Cells; Inexpensive To Manufacture." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080514154702.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Hawaii Lava Approaching Village Road

Raw: Hawaii Lava Approaching Village Road

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) The lava flow on the Big Island of Hawaii was 225 yards from Pahoa Village Road on Wednesday night. The lava is slowing down but still approaching the village. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

AFP (Oct. 29, 2014) At the foot of the rugged Carpathian mountains near the Polish-Ukrainian border, ranchers and scientists are trying to protect the Carpathian pony, known as the Hucul in Polish. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deadly Mudslide in Sri Lanka Buries Houses

Deadly Mudslide in Sri Lanka Buries Houses

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) A mudslide triggered by monsoon rains buried scores of workers' houses at a tea plantation in central Sri Lanka on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and leaving more than 250 missing, an official said. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins