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 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.
Prof. Dr. Christiane Becker
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
Dr. Antonia Rötger | Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie GmbH
Agricultural insecticide contamination threatens U.S. surface water integrity at the national scale
06.12.2018 | Universität Koblenz-Landau
Improving hydropower through long-range drought forecasts
06.12.2018 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF
What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.
Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.
Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...
New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals
Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.
Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.
Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...
Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.
The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.
06.12.2018 | Event News
03.12.2018 | Event News
28.11.2018 | Event News
07.12.2018 | Life Sciences
07.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
07.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy