Brit Liggett

New Black Silicon Solar Cells are Cheap and Absorb More Sun

by , 09/03/10

efficient solar cells, increased efficiency for solar cells, how to increase solar efficiency

While the reflective and shiny solar panels that researchers have been making thus far look pretty, they’re no match for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) recently discovered black silicon solar cell. The scientists at NREL discovered that etching thousands of tiny holes into a silicon wafer causes it to be almost black and thus able to absorb almost all of the sun’s rays, and more absorbent solar cells mean more efficient panels.

efficient solar cells, increased efficiency for solar cells, how to increase solar efficiency

We recently reported on researchers that are using off the shelf dyes to help solar cells absorb a wider range of light but this experiment goes even further. No color can stand up to black when it comes to absorbing . Black doesn’t bounce anything back – it hoards all photons for itself. The researchers got the idea from a team in Munich that had carefully placed a thin layer of gold and some fancy chemicals on their silicon to turn it black.

By mixing gold and chemicals into a cocktail and spraying it on silicon, they were able to create a black silicon wafer in under 3 minutes at room temperature. At 100 degrees Fahrenheit they can do it in less than a minute — this bodes well for mass manufacturing. They call their black silicon wet-etched, because the chemical and gold mixture is wet when applied and etches holes into the substance. Their next effort — and its a big one — is engineering a workable solar panel around their etched silicon.

+ NREL

Via Physorg

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5 Comments

  1. ralph1 October 29, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    how soon do you expect it to be commercial?

  2. KenV October 5, 2010 at 10:53 am

    You say the New Black Silicon Solar Cells are cheap but what is the price comparison and where can the be purchased.

  3. galenakarsson September 14, 2010 at 6:25 am

    I like those New Black Silicon Solar Cells because it is very cheap and Absorb More Sun light.

  4. ecogeek September 3, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    I would like to see more information on the dyes and “fancy chemicals” that were used in the manufacturing process…what are they and are they environmentally friendly?

  5. umlud September 3, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Just a nit-pick: do you really mean to say that “they’re no match for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) recently discovered black silicon solar cell.”

    It’s not like this technology was found somewhere; that this was a thing to be uncovered. Black silicon solar cells are a technology that has been developed. True, NREL might have recently discovered how much better black silicon solar cells are compared to previous technologies (the meaning behind the developed technology being the concept that can be “discovered”), since (in English) knowledge is a construct that remains “hidden”. However, yet-to-be-created technology is not “discovered” (although the knowledge underlying it may be), but is “developed”.

    As a scientist, I’m not really a fan of how the terms get thrown about, since the concept of discovery is fundamentally different than the concept of development.

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