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New Black Silicon Solar Cells are Cheap and Absorb More Sun

Posted By Brit Liggett On September 3, 2010 @ 12:09 pm In Renewable Energy,Solar Power | 5 Comments

efficient solar cells, increased efficiency for solar cells, how to increase solar efficiency [1]

While the reflective and shiny solar panels [2] that researchers have been making thus far look pretty, they’re no match for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s [3] (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 [4]

We recently reported on researchers that are using off the shelf dyes [5] 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 [2] around their etched silicon.

+ NREL [3]

Via Physorg [6]


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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/new-black-silicon-solar-cells-are-cheap-and-absorb-more-sun/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://inhabitat.com/2010/07/20/breakthrough-in-solar-cell-science-points-to-increased-efficiency/indium-gallium-science-4/

[2] solar panels: http://inhabitat.com/solar-power/

[3] National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s: http://www.nrel.gov/features/20100902_silicon.html#nogo

[4] Image: http://inhabitat.com/2010/07/20/breakthrough-in-solar-cell-science-points-to-increased-efficiency/indium-gallium-science-3/

[5] off the shelf dyes: http://inhabitat.com/2010/09/01/off-the-shelf-dyes-increase-solar-panel-absorption/

[6] Physorg: http://www.physorg.com/news202717607.html

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