Black silicon solar cells are now real contenders
There’s been plenty of good news about solar power lately – not only are governments around the world using it more and more, we’re now able to harvest the Sun’s energy more cheaply and efficiently than ever before. But there’s still one big problem: traditional solar cells simply don’t work that well unless they’re in direct, bright sunlight.
To rectify this, researchers have been working on creating structures called black silicon solar cells, which absorb way more light and are useful even on overcast days. But they’ve never been efficient enough to be real players in the solar race – up until now, that is.
A team of European researchers has just announced that they’ve set a new record by creating black silicon solar cells that can convert 22.1 percent of the Sun’s light into electricity – an increase of almost four percent on their previous record. While this doesn’t compare to the record of 40 percent efficiency in traditional silicon solar cells, it shows that black silicon solar cells are now real contenders that could help greatly reduce the cost of solar power in the future.
Even more impressively, the team compared their new black silicon solar cells with traditional solar cells of the same efficiency, and showed that their cells increased daily energy production by 3 percent, thanks to their ability to suck up light even when the Sun was low in the sky.
“This is an advantage particularly in the north, where the sun shines from a low angle for a large part of the year,” project coordinator Hele Savin from Aalto University in Finland said in a press release. “We have demonstrated that in winter Helsinki, black cells generate considerably more electricity than traditional cells even though both cells have identical efficiency values.”
What’s different about black silicon solar cells is that their surfaces are covered in tiny, nano-scale ridges, which helps them absorb the most visible and infrared light possible. Once this light is captured, a quantum reaction occurs that results in the production of electrons. But because of all those nano-ridges, the electrons tend to recombine with the photovoltaic surface of the black silicon, rather than flowing through the cell as electricity – a problem that’s created a limit to how efficient the cells could become.
To rectify this problem, the researchers from Aalto University worked with a team from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Spain and added a thin film to their nanostructures, as well as a thick coating to the back of the cells, which encourages the electrons to keep moving.
Publishing in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers report that their resulting cells are the most efficient black silicon solar cells to date, capable of turning 22.1 percent of available light into electricity. “This means that the surface recombination issue has truly been solved and black silicon solar cells have real potential for industrial production,” the authors write.
What’s even more exciting about this research is the fact that the team hasn’t optimised the new cells as yet, so there’s potential for them to easily become more efficient, as well as cheaper. “Our record cells were fabricated using p-type silicon, which is known to suffer from impurity-related degradation. There is no reason why even higher efficiencies could not be reached using n-type silicon or more advanced cell structures,” said Savin.
The Latest on: Black silicon solar cells
via Google News
The Latest on: Black silicon solar cells
- SiOnyx, Black Silicon Startup of the North Shore, Shows Its Solar Cell Tech Is For Realon October 24, 2019 at 5:00 pm
SiOnyx, a Beverly, MA-based semiconductor company known for its “black silicon” approach to various applications, including solar cells, is reporting today that it has achieved an overall efficiency ...
- The blackest black for more efficient solar cellson September 19, 2019 at 12:38 am
The invention may be interesting for the development of black silicon PV technology and carbon nanotube-based solar cells. Scientists from MIT have developed a material made of vertically aligned ...
- Canadian Solar Sets a 22.80% Conversion Efficiency World Record for P-type Large Area Multi-Crystalline Silicon Solar Cellon September 17, 2019 at 4:34 am
Notably, the MCCE black-silicon texturing technology, originally developed and mass-produced by Canadian Solar, was used to further improve cell performance. Canadian Solar is a technology leader in ...
- Canadian Solar Sets a 22.80% Conversion Efficiency World Record for P-type Large Area Multi-Crystalline Silicon Solar Cellon September 17, 2019 at 4:28 am
Notably, the MCCE black-silicon texturing technology, originally developed and mass-produced by Canadian Solar, was used to further improve cell performance.
- A Potential Substitute For Silicon In Solar Cellson September 3, 2019 at 3:35 am
AsianScientist (Sep. 3, 2019) – An international team of scientists has discovered a material that converts sunlight into electricity with greater efficiency than silicon ... that often emerge in thin ...
- Is This The End Of Silicon Solar Cells?on August 12, 2019 at 1:06 pm
That team found a way to make the perovskite stay in its black phase by sticking it to a glass sheet ... but perovskites are certainly promising alternatives to the silicon solar cell. Solar power is ...
- Solar cell ‘spikes’ let in 99% of sunlighton June 19, 2019 at 5:00 pm
A new one-step process to etch nanoscale spikes into silicon lets the maximum amount of sunlight reach a solar cell, unlike current materials that ... and nanoengineering at Rice University. Enter ...
- New silicon treatment promises better solar cell productionon September 5, 2018 at 5:31 am
Dry etched at coated “black silicon” could represent a dramativ cut in the cost of solar power. Image: Aino Laine, Aalto University Conventionally, solar cells appear blue because of a surface ...
- Black and Blue: Different Silicon Drops Cost of Solaron September 3, 2018 at 5:00 pm
Switching the Silicon Used in Solar Cells for Renewable Energy Drops Costs Silicon ... Typical thinking has been that the cost of black-Si cells from dry etching and ALD are too expensive for ...
- Suntech’s black silicon solar cells enter mass productionon January 4, 2018 at 2:16 am
Work on the Chinese manufacturer’s black silicon solar cells began last June. It now says they have entered into mass production, with an annual capacity of 500 MW expected by this Q1. “Suntech’s R&D ...
via Bing News