Stanford researchers discover break-through to create low-cost solar cells

A team of talented scientists from Stanford University situated in Stanford, in Silicon Valley, 20 miles (approximately 30 Km) out of San Jose, California, USA have successfully displayed the usage of nanotechnology. The method to manufacture crystalline silicon (c-Si) thin-film solar cells which are being claimed to be more efficient at capturing solar energy.

Stanford Researchers

Stanford researchers

This discovery can pave a path to a breakthrough in reducing the cost of solar energy production globally.A team of three researchers from the Stanford University led by, Dr. Shrestha Basu Mallick, a researcher of Indian origin, along with her advisors Dr. Mark Brongersma and Dr. Peter Peumans, discovered a new method to produce cheaper and more efficient solar cells.The team used optical modeling and electrical simulations to showcase that a thin-film crystalline silicon solar cell with a 2D nanostructure generated a photocurrent output which was as much as three times higher as compared to an unstructured cell of the same thickness.

The team explained the phenomenon as such that this happened because the nanostructured surface trapped incoming light more effectively and efficiently making the light to spend more time on the silicon material. The nanostructured surface traps are light thereby increasing the chances of light getting absorbed in higher amounts. The longer the light is trapped inside the cell, the greater is the absorption rate, and this is the reason for a higher output of photocurrent from a nanostructured solar cell than an unstructured one.

Dr. Basu Mallick quoted that nanostructuring significantly enhances the light absorption rate in crystalline silicon solar cells and this also reduces the thickness of silicon required to manufacture crystalline Silicon solar cells, thereby significantly reducing the cost of production involved for manufacturing them on a large scale.

This is being considered as an important discovery as it reveals a relatively simple technique to improve the efficiency of all crystalline silicon-based solar cells. This will empower countries to be competitive against the import of solar cells and will create a pathway for newer solar applications like flexible or transparent cells, Dr. Basu further added.

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