Increasing Solar Cell Efficiency
When we think of clean and green fuels, at the back of the mind we are also thinking of their drawbacks. Scientists are continuously striving to create alternatives that can eliminate the poisonous side effects of fossil fuels. A leading Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) systems producer of Finland, Picosun Oy, is participating in a European Union funded research project to achieve this. The European Union has allotted 2.9 million euros from its 7th European Research Program for the 4 million euro budget of ROD-SOL (Rods for Novel Solar Cells).
“Picosun is extremely proud to be one of only four industrial partners in this enormously important project”, states Juhana Kostamo who is the Managing Director of Picosun. “Thin films are going to be the key for success in this project. Picosun focuses exclusively on ALD and ALD is key to advanced thin films”, Kostamo says.
The objective of this project is to considerably increase the efficiency of solar cells. At the same time this project aspires to develop new, more cost effective nanomaterials for solar cells. The cost factor of solar panels is very important if we want such power for mass consumption; till now the cost of solar panels are giving the impression that it is a luxury rather than a necessity as far as normal consumers are concerned.
According to Dr. Silke Christiansen, the coordinator of ROD-SOL from the Institute of Photonic Technology in Germany, and also one of seven science partners of the project, they are focusing on optimization of the growth of silicon nanorods on inexpensive substrates. They are trying economical substrates such as glass or synthetic foil for future thin film. They are producing such nanorods which can act as ideal light traps to capture the energy of light for transformation into electricity.
Huge areas somewhat on the lines of a square having 380 km sides are required to meet the needs of electric energy using photovoltaics. It means having the surface area of a small country like Nepal or Bangladesh or half the surface area of Italy, Finland or Philippines! “The more effective solar cells are the make-or-break of the future potential use of photovoltaics. ROD-SOL aims at raising the efficiency of solar cells by more than half from their current capacity,” says Kostamo. “The urgency to find sustainable new ways to generate energy is obvious to us all.”