Gallery: German Scientists Double the Efficiency of Black Silicon Solar...


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The future of solar power is about to get a little brighter with new developments in black silicon, a material that can absorb almost the entire spectrum of light – including infrared. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany were recently able to double the efficiency of black silicon solar cells, and the team is also hoping to combine a conventional panel (which can only capture three quarters of the spectrum) with black silicon to create a super-efficient cell that can harness the the full power of the sun.

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have just succeeded in doubling the efficiency of solar cells made from black silicon. Black silicon is formed by irradiating regular silicon with a laser under sulfuric conditions. The silicon integrates the sulfur into its composition after being treated with the laser pulses, giving the substance its characteristic black color. By changing the shape of the laser beams, the researchers were able to overcome one of the most common problems of working with silicon. 

In normal silicon, infrared does not possess enough energy to excite the electrons in the conduction band necessary to generate electricity. By incorporating sulfur, an intermediate level is formed in the atomic lattice. This level acts as a step for electrons to jump to the conduction band as well as move in reverse from the band. However, energy is still lost when electrons move backwards from the conduction band. “We used the laser pulses to alter the embedded sulfur in order to maximize the number of electrons that can climb up while minimizing the number that can go back down,” said Dr. Stefan Kontermann, one of the researchers involved in the project.

Prototypes of the improved black silicon cells are already in production, and engineers are also working on a new, tandem solar cell created by removing the black covering of a standard solar cell and and applying the black silicon. This hybrid could increase efficiency by at least one percent. The Fraunhofer Institute is also in the process of developing the laser system for mass production so that manufacturers can simply add the equipment to their assembly line and make black silicon for themselves.

+ The Fraunhofer Institute

Via Treehugger


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  1. chancey October 12, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    Iam in search of a sciencetist who research in sun, earth and moon the solar systom of the universe, this will employ millions of people all over the world and billions of dollars to every country yes,because every country has a piece of the puzzle,to make this a reality for the whole world, contact me @

  2. Ron Couchman October 11, 2012 at 11:39 am

    I herd of a new solar cell that they dip them into something then spray a black substance on them. They also stack three of them together to make them 33 percent more energy. I don’t know who they are but most of Europe and the middel East are waiting at the door to obtain these panels. If you know who these science people are and where I could get the Trading code so I could buy stock because this stock is going to the top. Ron Couchman

  3. CardiganJim October 11, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I’ve been trying to calculate a ‘crop’ of solar panels. What revenue per acre if one ‘farms’ energy? New cell may increase net profit 25%. Let’s get them to market ASAP.

  4. mcbrito October 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    From the Fraunofer press release: ” We hope to be able to increase the efficiency of commercial solar cells – which currently stands at approximately 17 percent – by one percent by combining them with black silicon”

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