Researchers Create More Efficient Solar Cells

Researchers Create More Efficient Solar Cells

Sumit Chaudhary, left, and Kanwar Singh Nalwa of Iowa State University and the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have been working to improve the efficiency of polymer solar cells.

A research team from Iowa State University and the Ames Laboratory has discovered a way to produce a uniformly thin light-absorbing layer on textured substrates that increases the light absorption of polymer solar cells.

The technique, which increased the cells’ efficiency by around 20%, requires the light-absorbing layer to be uniformly thin, even when it covers tiny flat-topped ridges that are less than a millionth of a meter tall. Previous attempts to use textured substrates produced air gaps in the light-absorbing layer or varying thicknesses, which resulted in short circuiting and poor performance.

The Iowa State University Research Foundation has filed a patent for the coating technology and textured substrate used in their successful experiment, which is detailed in an online report by the journal Advanced Materials. The team hopes to license the technology to solar cell manufacturers.


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