Info
Info

Luxembourg Researchers Refute 20-year-old Assumptions In Solar Cell Production

News

Research led by the University of Luxembourg investigated the manufacturing process of solar cells. The researchers proved that assumptions on chemical processes that were commonplace among researchers and producers for the past 20 years are, in fact, inaccurate. The physicists published their findings in scientific journal Nature Communications.

Photovoltaic solar panels convert sunlight into electrical power. The panels absorb the incoming light which excites electrons sending them off in a predefined direction in order to generate an electric current that can drive motors or light a bulb. This works through the interaction of several layers of semiconductors and metals in the solar panel. The cells are manufactured in a complex process where several chemical elements are deposited on a glass substrate, typically by evaporation. Thereby, a solar cell "grows", layer by layer.

In the past, scientists discovered by accident that the efficiency of one type of solar cell technology improves vastly if they add sodium to the light absorbing layer. At the same time, they observed that the sodium impacts the growth of this layer and the interaction of the other chemical elements, namely it inhibits the mixing of gallium and indium. This leads to less homogenous layers and thus impairs the results. Therefore, in the past, scientists and manufacturers believed that the ideal way to produce a solar cell was to only add the sodium after the growth process was concluded.

By using a different approach, researchers from the Physics and Materials Science Research Unit at the University of Luxembourg, along with four internationals partners, now were able to show that the truth is more nuanced. While conventionally the light-absorbing layer is made up of thousands of individual grains, the research group chose a more demanding fabrication strategy and grew the layer as a single grain. "Essentially, in this work we show that if the absorber is made of only one grain, adding a small amount of sodium helps to homogenize the distribution of the elements," said Diego Colombara, now Marie Curie Research Fellow at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory and the principal investigator of the study. "This is very surprising, because more than 20 years of previous research have consistently shown the opposite effect on absorbers made of many grains."

The conclusion of the researchers is that sodium has a dual effect: it homogenises the elements inside each grain but it slows down homogenisation in the interplay between grains. "This gives us the opportunity to rethink how we produce solar cells. In the future, these insights might lead to improvements in the manufacturing process," concluded Dr Phillip Dale, the head of the research group at the Laboratory for Energy Materials (LEM) at the University of Luxembourg and an Attract fellow of the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR).

Kia And Hyundai Plans To Introduce ‘solar Roof’ Charging Technology
Hanwha Q CELLS Supplies Half-cell Modules To Largest Hotel Solar Installation In Stockholm
Minimal Carbon Footprint From Midsummer CIGS Process
Eco Energy World Reach Financial Close On 54 MW Of Merchant Solar Projects In Australia
New Innovative Solar Light Connecting Off-grid Population
SOLARWATT In-roof Solar Panel Wins 2019 German Design Award
BayWa R.e. And LONGi Solar Sign Global Framework Agreement
Schletter Group: 1MW Rooftop Project In Jordan On The Grid
Cabot Microelectronics Completes Acquisition Of KMG Chemicals
Ascent CIGS Technology Goes Into Space
Midsummer Continues Strong Growth
University Aims For A Brighter Future With ABB Solar Solutions
New Minister And New Start For Solar In Ireland
ABB Microgrid To Support Portuguese Island’s Energy Transition
Joint Research By Fraunhofer ISE And Heraeus For High-performance Solar Modules
Kia And Hyundai Reveal Solar Charging Technology To Power Eco-friendly Vehicles
The Biggest Solar Show In Ireland 27-28 November
ENGIE Signs 25-year PPA With Senegalese Government For Two Solar Projects
Flea-sized Solar Panels Embedded In Clothes Can Charge A Mobile Phone
Korean Renewable Energy Potential Takes Centre Stage
NREL Identifies Where New Solar Technologies Can Be Flexible
ENGIE Signs 25-year PPA With Senegalese Government For Two Solar Projects
Hanwha Q CELLS Launches Scalable Energy Storage System In Germany
Hanwha Q CELLS’ Deliver Exceptional Performance In Fraunhofer CSP Test

Info
×
Search the news archive

To close this popup you can press escape or click the close icon.
Logo
×
Logo
×
Register - Step 1

You may choose to subscribe to the Solar + Power Magazine, the Solar + Power Newsletter, or both. You may also request additional information if required, before submitting your application.


Please subscribe me to:

 

You chose the industry type of "Other"

Please enter the industry that you work in:
Please enter the industry that you work in:
 
X
Info
X
Info