Gallery: New Silicon Nanorod Solar Cells Use 99% Less Material


Instead of investing in solar cell architectures that require entirely new manufacturing processes, wouldn’t it be easiest to build on what we have? That’s part of the thinking behind a new type of silicon nanorod solar cell developed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The nanorods are assembled into a “carpet” and embedded into a transparent polymer to make flexible solar cells that use only 1% of the material needed to make conventional silicon cells.

This isn’t the first time scientists have built solar cells out of a nanowire array. Researchers in St. Petersburg, Russia, recently built a nanowire cell out of gallium arsenide, but the material is more expensive to produce than silicon. Another advantage to the CIT team’s research: their silicon design can be built using tools already used in solar cell production facilities.

The CIT researchers still need to build a solar cell device out of the nanowire array. But if all goes well, the flexible silicon cells could one day be used to make cheap solar panels and ultra-efficient solar-powered clothing that we can only dream about today.

+ Nature News



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  1. jstamesngr October 16, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    I hope the price of this new technology will be affordable to actually use!!

  2. bpg131313 February 15, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    I wish them the best of luck on the first actual test of the new system. There wasn’t mention of efficiency, so I’m guessing it’ll be the same as polycrystalline panels. Every advancement helps.

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