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Exotic Solar Cells Get Cheaper

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Filed: Country: Philippines
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New process cuts cost of copper-indium-diselenide fabrication

By Katie Howell

Solar cells could be produced from materials other than silicon under a breakthrough that scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, say could dramatically reduce the price of solar technologies.

Solar companies have been searching for some time for materials that are more efficient, cheaper to produce and use fewer raw materials than silicon. But tests of copper, indium, gallium, selenide (CIGS) or related materials have failed so far to produce a winner.

"People have already demonstrated efficiency levels of up to 20 percent, but the current processing method is costly," said William Hou, an engineering graduate student at UCLA, in a statement. "Ultimately the cost of fabricating the product makes it difficult to be competitive with current grid prices."

Hou and his colleagues report in this week's Thin Solid Films the development of a low-cost processing method for solar cells made from copper, indium and diselenide. Those cells, they say, will have the potential to be produced on a large scale for a number of applications, including placement on backpacks or clothing.

"With the solution process that we recently developed, we can inherently reach the same [20 percent] efficiency levels and bring the cost of manufacturing down quite significantly," Hou said.

So far, the researchers have achieved 9.13 percent efficiency over the 16-month project, but they are optimistic that they will reach their goal of 15 percent or 20 percent efficiency.

"We started this process 16 months ago from ground zero. We spent three to four months getting the material to reach 1 percent, and today it is around 9 percent," said Yang Yang, a UCLA engineering professor who led the research team. "That is about an average increase of 1 percent every two months."

Most CIGS solar cells are produced using a co-evaporation technique that involves vacuums and can be costly and time-consuming. The elements are heated and deposited on a surface in a vacuum.

But the UCLA team has created its copper-indium-diselenide solar cell without going through the vacuum evaporation process. Instead, they dissolve their material into a liquid, apply it to a surface and bake it. In solution form, their solar absorber layer -- the part made from the copper-indium-diselenide or CIGS materials and critical to the performance of the cell -- can be easily painted or coated onto a surface.

"In our method, [an] advantage is our solution technology has the potential to be fabricated in a continuous roll-to-roll process," Hou said, which is an important cost breakthrough.

Yang said the technology could reach commercial scale in three or four years.

"As we continue to work on enhancing the performance and efficiency of the solar cells, we also look forward to opportunities to collaborate with industry in order to develop this technology further," Yang said.

Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500

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So far, the researchers have achieved 9.13 percent efficiency over the 16-month project, but they are optimistic that they will reach their goal of 15 percent or 20 percent efficiency.

There is the real problem with solar. Until we get the efficiency up to 50% or better solar will be nothing more than a supplement to fossil fuels. No one wants to paper the planet with solar cells any more than we want wind farms that cover thousands of acres.

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Filed: Other Country: Canada
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So far, the researchers have achieved 9.13 percent efficiency over the 16-month project, but they are optimistic that they will reach their goal of 15 percent or 20 percent efficiency.

There is the real problem with solar. Until we get the efficiency up to 50% or better solar will be nothing more than a supplement to fossil fuels. No one wants to paper the planet with solar cells any more than we want wind farms that cover thousands of acres.

We need to expand research and development in this area. Fossil fuels are finite and a detriment to our environment and economy.

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Yay!! I celebrate energy diversity!!!!!


"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies."

Senator Barack Obama
Senate Floor Speech on Public Debt
March 16, 2006



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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Colombia
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That article sounds like typical university hype to gain more grant money. For semi-conductor type solar cells, a tetravalent material is required, what industry is really looking hard at today, is carbon with more prospective characteristics than silicon. But they are doing this to make money by selling a viable product, not get grants.

Too bad all this research is being done in Asian countries, we use to be pretty good at innovation, but all our corporations are interested in, is instant profits. Rush to market kind of thing. A couple of bucks from the government or at least a tax break would also help. Damned IRS is very greedy and our EPA says, you can't do that here.

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Colombia
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I agree with Gary. More efficiency = more output.

Plants do it with a lot more effiency don't they? Maybe a biological approach is needed rather than a semiconductor one.

I like this thinking. Maybe a bioengineered version of solar panels?

The only problem will be obtaining sufficient energy transfer per panel. Biological systems do have their limits- mainly... heat breakdown. Perhaps using phytochemicals (plant chemicals) to run these things instead of doing it in a 'living' design.


Wishing you ten-fold that which you wish upon all others.

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I agree with Gary. More efficiency = more output.

Plants do it with a lot more effiency don't they? Maybe a biological approach is needed rather than a semiconductor one.

I like this thinking. Maybe a bioengineered version of solar panels?

The only problem will be obtaining sufficient energy transfer per panel. Biological systems do have their limits- mainly... heat breakdown. Perhaps using phytochemicals (plant chemicals) to run these things instead of doing it in a 'living' design.

Or just skip the "cell" idea all together and work on something like this.

http://earth2tech.com/2008/03/27/15-algae-...-to-fuel-tanks/

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Colombia
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I agree with Gary. More efficiency = more output.

Plants do it with a lot more effiency don't they? Maybe a biological approach is needed rather than a semiconductor one.

I like this thinking. Maybe a bioengineered version of solar panels?

The only problem will be obtaining sufficient energy transfer per panel. Biological systems do have their limits- mainly... heat breakdown. Perhaps using phytochemicals (plant chemicals) to run these things instead of doing it in a 'living' design.

Or just skip the "cell" idea all together and work on something like this.

http://earth2tech.com/2008/03/27/15-algae-...-to-fuel-tanks/

Exactly. Bypass the thermal limits on cellular-based biology. Make it purely biochemical. Many proteins have physical limits that exceed the viability limits 'set' in cells.


Wishing you ten-fold that which you wish upon all others.

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
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It was already suggested to build an extension cord directly from the earth to the sun.

i say put all the greenies on a treadmill.


* ~ * Charles * ~ *
 

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

 

USE THE REPORT BUTTON INSTEAD OF MESSAGING A MODERATOR!

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
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Or all the timewasters that breathe more than they should.

why do you hate hyperventilating time wasters?


* ~ * Charles * ~ *
 

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

 

USE THE REPORT BUTTON INSTEAD OF MESSAGING A MODERATOR!

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