Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers enable solar cells to use more sunlight


Scientists of the University of Luxembourg and of the Japanese electronics company TDK report progress in photovoltaic research: they have improved a component that will enable solar cells to use more energy of the sun and thus create a higher current.

The improvement concerns a conductive oxide film which now has more transparency in the infrared region. Similar attempts had been made before, but this is the first time that these films were prepared by a one-step process and, at the same time, stable in air.

“The films made at the University of Luxembourg have been exposed to air for one and half years and are still as conductive as when they were fresh prepared”, says Prof. Susanne Siebentritt, head of the laboratory for photovoltaics at the University of Luxembourg.

“It is a fantastic result, not only for solar cells, but also for a range of other technologies”, she adds. Collaborators of this study were Dr. Matěj Hála, research associate in the laboratory for photovoltaics and Shohei Fujii and Yukari Inoue, visiting scientists from TDK.

Transparent conductive oxides are used in any device combining electronics and light, like LEDs, solar cells, photodetectors or even touch screens. They have the particularity to combine the properties of metals, which are the best electrical conductors known, with those of oxides, which usually are transparent but not conductive, as for example glass. In solar cells the film has to be conductive because it constitutes the upper electrode. At the same time it has to be transparent in order for sunlight to reach the layer underneath, where the current is formed.

The oxides forming this film can be made conductive by deliberately adding impurities. Zinc oxide with aluminium added is a widely used example. In this case, the aluminium adds free electrons to the zinc oxide which are responsible for the conductivity. However, these free electrons also absorb infrared light. That means that less sun energy can pass through.

The team of the University of Luxembourg and TDK have modified the process used to make the film in order to make pure zinc oxide more conductive. “Our multidisciplinary team, benefitting from the exchange of knowledge across countries, had the idea to add an additional component - another gas plasma - in the so called sputter process. This makes the material conductive even without aluminium.” explains Prof. Siebentritt.

This method enables to have less but faster moving free electrons. “With this result, the conductivity is similar to the one with aluminium, but it enables a much better transparency in the infrared region as less free electrons cause also less absorption. That makes solar cells more efficient”, adds Dr. Matěj Hála. The findings are now published in the respected journal "Progress in Photovoltaics".

Weitere Informationen: - University of Luxembourg

Britta Schlüter | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht From ancient fossils to future cars
21.10.2016 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht Study explains strength gap between graphene, carbon fiber
20.10.2016 | Rice University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>