Sun Shines on Solar Energy Future
The chances of producing solar power as a more commercially viable source of alternative energy seem brighter now with the positive research results pioneered by University of Illinois professors. The Department of Energy and National Science Foundation-funded team led by Professors John Rogers, and Xiuling Li, has been exploring ways to find more optimal ways to reduce the cost of semiconductors other than silicon.
Superiority of semiconductor gallium:
The semiconductor gallium arsenide and other compound semiconductors are twice as efficient as the standard silicon semiconductor. But the prohibitively high production cost has been the stumbling block which has been circumvented by the innovative methods used by this group. To boot, their methods have been shown to be more advantageous cost-wise as well open a well of opportunities to utilize high-speed gallium or other semiconductors to make flexible thin-film electronics.
Instead of thin single-layer gallium arsenide deposited on small wafers, the Illinois group tried to create ‘pancake’-like stacks of 10 layers deposited at one go and peel the layers off individually, transfer them and lay them side by side. Giving all details of this procedure, Professor Rogers, the Lee J. Flory Founder Chair in Engineering Innovation & Professor of materials science and engineering and of chemistry said, “We’re creating bulk quantities of material, as opposed to just the thin single-layer manner in which it is typically grown…. “You really multiply the area coverage, and by a similar multiplier you reduce the cost, while at the same time eliminating the consumption of the wafer.”
Illinois team & research paper:
The Illinois team led by Professors John Rogers, and Xiuling Li, is planning to publish their research paper online on May 20, 2010, in the journal ‘Nature’. Along with the multi-layer technique and other details of their research, they will demonstrate three types of devices – light sensors, high-speed transistors and solar cells which will use gallium arsenide chips.
The team also includes University of Illinois post-doctoral researchers Jongseung Yoon, Sungjin Jo and Inhwa Jung; students Ik Su Chun and Hoon-Sik Kin; also Professor James Coleman of electrical and computer engineering, from Hanyang University in Seoul Ungyu Paik and Semprius Inc, scientists, Matthew Meitl and Etienne Menard.