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Nanotechnology to provide cheap solar energy

18.07.2008
Research into new types of solar cells produced by nanotechnology will be described by Professor Darren Bagnall at the World Renewable Energy Conference in Glasgow which begins tomorrow.

Professor Bagnall and his Nano Group at the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) have conducted extensive research into how nanotechnologies can contribute to the creation of solar cells which can be manufactured on cheap flexible substrates rather than expensive silicon wafers by using nanoscale features that trap light.

Speaking in the conference session on Photovoltaic Technology on Tuesday 22 July, Professor Bagnall will deliver a presentation entitled: Biomimetics and plasmonics: capturing all of the light. He will describe how his group has investigated biomimetic optical structures, which copy the nano structures seen in nature so that they can develop solar cells which allow efficient light-trapping. One type of structure is based on an anti-reflective technique exploited by moth eyes. Others are based on metallic nanoparticles that form plasmonic structures.

'It is essential that a solar cell absorbs all of the light that is available,' he said. 'Thicker devices absorb more light and unfortunately the need to use thick layers (particularly in the case of silicon) drives up the cost and often degrades the electronic properties of devices. Effective light-trapping will allow many alternatives and systems to be considered and will allow lower quality (cheaper) material.’

For further details about the World Renewable Energy Conference, please visit: http://www.wrenuk.co.uk/wrecx.html

Helene Murphy | alfa
Further information:
http://www.wrenuk.co.uk/wrecx.html
http://www.soton.ac.uk

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