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Thinner Film Silicon Solar Cells

IB-2564

APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:

ADVANTAGES:

ABSTRACT:

Berkeley Lab scientists have designed a new approach to create highly efficient thin film silicon solar cells. This technology promises to lower solar cell material costs by using thinner photon energy absorber layers requiring less silicon than conventional photovoltaic devices of similar photon absorptive power. Additionally, the invention has the potential to increase photon energy conversion efficiencies by as much as 20%, a significant improvement over conventional thin film photovoltaic technologies.

The Berkeley Lab inventors have discovered that wave function engineering can be used to enhance silicon’s ability to absorb light and emit electrical energy. Wave function engineering is a technique that modifies the molecular composition and structure of a material to optimize its photo absorption coefficient and thus the frequency at which it can absorb energy intensive photons. As a result, this invention minimizes the number of photons lost to waste heat, making it possible to create thin film silicon solar cells that absorb nearly twice the amount of light of conventional thin film photovoltaics. Current devices typically use band gap engineering to enhance electron hole carrier mobilities and energy output by modifying the composition of solar cell materials such as semiconductor alloys.

STATUS: Published Patent application PCT/US2009/057274 available at www.wipo.int. Available for licensing or collaborative research.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE:  Early stage research.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Malone, B.D., J.D. Sau, and M.L. Cohen, “Ab initio study of the optical properties of Si-XII,” Physical Review B 78, 161202 (2008).

SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:

Processing Iron Pyrite Nanocrystals for Use in Solar Cells, IB-2636 

High-Efficiency, Self-Concentrating Nanoscale Solar Cell, IB-2338 

Non-sintered, Layered Nanocrystal Photovoltaic Cells, IB-2511 

Hot Electron Photovoltaics Using Low Cost Materials and Simple Cell Design, IB-2195 

Low Cost, High Efficiency Tandem Silicon Solar Cells, IB-2357 

REFERENCE NUMBER: IB-2564

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