Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

18.09.2018

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by impairing the electronic properties of the material.


The nanostructure for capturing light is imprinted on silicon oxide (blue) and then "levelled" with titanium oxide (green).

HZB

The idea that David Eisenhauer worked out as part of his doctorate in Becker's team sounds quite simple, but it requires a completely new approach: to produce a structure that behaves "optically rough" and scatters the light, but at the same time provides a "smooth" surface on which the silicon layer (the most important layer of the solar cell) can grow with virtually no defects.

The procedure consists of several steps: first, the researchers imprint an optimised nanostructure onto a still liquid silicon oxide precursor layer that is then cured with UV light and heat. This creates tiny, regularly arranged cylindrical elevations that are ideal for capturing light. However, the absorbing layer of crystalline silicon cannot grow flawlessly on this rough surface, so these structures have an unfavorable effect on the quality of the solar cell. In order to resolve this conflict, a very thin layer of titanium oxide is spin coated on top of the nanostructure in order to produce a relatively smooth surface on which the actual absorber material can be deposited and crystallized.

The coating has the descriptive name "SMART" for smooth anti-reflective three-dimensional texture. It reduces reflections and brings more light into the absorbing layer without impairing its electronic properties. The procedure is now patented.

Christiane Becker heads a Young Investigator Group at the HZB funded by the BMBF under the NanoMatFutur programme. As part of the BerOSE Joint Lab, she works closely with the Zuse Institute to use computer simulations for understanding the effects of nanostructuring on material properties.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Dr. Christiane Becker
Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin
christiane.becker@helmholtz-berlin.de

Originalpublikation:

Published in Scientific Reports (2017): Smooth anti-reflective three-dimensional textures for liquid phase crystallized silicon thin-film solar cells on glass; David Eisenhauer, Grit Köppel, Klaus Jäger, Duote Chen, Oleksandra Shargaieva, Paul Sonntag, Daniel Amkreutz, Bernd Rech & Christiane Becker

doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-02874-y

Dr. Antonia Rötger | Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie GmbH
Further information:
http://www.helmholtz-berlin.de/

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht New material, manufacturing process use sun's heat for cheaper renewable electricity
22.10.2018 | Purdue University

nachricht 3D-printed lithium-ion batteries
18.10.2018 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Goodbye, silicon? On the way to new electronic materials with metal-organic networks

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz (Germany) together with scientists from Dresden, Leipzig, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Madrid (Spain) have now developed and characterized a novel, metal-organic material which displays electrical properties mimicking those of highly crystalline silicon. The material which can easily be fabricated at room temperature could serve as a replacement for expensive conventional inorganic materials used in optoelectronics.

Silicon, a so called semiconductor, is currently widely employed for the development of components such as solar cells, LEDs or computer chips. High purity...

Im Focus: Storage & Transport of highly volatile Gases made safer & cheaper by the use of “Kinetic Trapping"

Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles

Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...

Im Focus: Disrupting crystalline order to restore superfluidity

When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.

We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...

Im Focus: Micro energy harvesters for the Internet of Things

Fraunhofer IWS Dresden scientists print electronic layers with polymer ink

Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...

Im Focus: Dynamik einzelner Proteine

Neue Messmethode erlaubt es Forschenden, die Bewegung von Molekülen lange und genau zu verfolgen

Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Conference to pave the way for new therapies

17.10.2018 | Event News

Berlin5GWeek: Private industrial networks and temporary 5G connectivity islands

16.10.2018 | Event News

5th International Conference on Cellular Materials (CellMAT), Scientific Programme online

02.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

For a lower climate footprint, vegetarian diet beats local

23.10.2018 | Studies and Analyses

Long-distance travels complicate conservation of migratory birds

23.10.2018 | Earth Sciences

Enabling a plastic-free microplastic hunt: "Rocket" improves detection of very small particles

22.10.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>