Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Jul 07

Highly Adaptable Solar Cells

Posted in Energy Inventions | Photovoltaic Cells | Solar Power

Adaptable Solar Cells There are two things that prevent solar cells from entering the mainstream: their prohibitive cost, and their inadaptability. Even if people can somehow overcome the cost barrier, the havoc they allegedly wreck upon buildings and houses keeps many people away from switching to non-fossil-fuel power generation, and besides, sunshine is never uniform. It varies with location, it fluctuates with the movement of the sun, and it increases and decreases in intensity as the weather changes. To justify cost and effort, people need something more stable, more dependable, and more sustainable.


The answer: space technology. Quantum Well Solar Cells from QuantaSol use a technology that has only been used in space-based applications (because space stations and satellites are constantly moving) and their solar cells have achieved a world record for the most efficient gallium arsenide (GaAs) solar cells. The greatest USP of these cells is that they can be adapted according to the location where they are being installed. This increases their efficiency manifold and allows them to generate solar energy under different and changing conditions.

These gallium arsenide solar cells can be tweaked to the prevailing light conditions of a particular place, to get the most out of the cells. To achieve this the scientists added indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) in just a few nanometers wide layers; these layers are called quantum wells. These wells can absorb light to produce electric current at specific frequencies.

This is where the cells can be tuned according to specific frequencies.

Semiconductor materials such as gallium arsenide (GaAs) are far more effective while converting light to electricity compared to the cheaper silicon cells most common today. The company plans to launch the product into the market but before that it wants to bring its cost significantly down.

  • Francisco A Roque

    That later statement will be the difference that will make people buy the systems, an effective and costing less is what we all need.

  • Francois

    IIRC, the total proved and probable reserves of indium are quite limited. The need for recycling would be substantial.

  • Robyn

    I thought gallium and indium were incredibly rare elements that are due to run out shortly?

  • Tamar

    The main disadvantage of Gallium-Arsenide is its expensive processing. This is why it is used mainly in research and in satellites. GaAs advantages: having a direct band gap, which results with high efficiency, and its high absorptivity, which enables thin-film production.

    It seem that it is a hard task to lower the price. Indeed, QuantaSol seem to concentrate on improving the efficiency by constructing multifunction cells.

  • Keith Elliott

    Is it not correct that Nano Solar in California is using a CIGS based printed solar cell for $1 per watt? Unfortunately, I understand that the current production is headed toward Germany. They also constructed another plant in Germany which came in under budget and ahead of schedule. The CIGS panels are but one type which we need here right now, and in huge quantities.


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