Photovoltaic solar cells are available in two types — crystalline silicon cells, which are more efficient but more expensive, and amorphous silicon cells, which are less efficient but cheaper and thinner and therefore more adaptable. New research from the Technical University of Delft, Netherlands, has found that using hydrogen in the production of amorphous silicon, or “thin film,” cells can increase their efficiency from the usual 7 percent to roughly 9 percent.
Researcher Gijs van Elzakker simply diluted the silane gas already used to produce the solar cells with hydrogen to achieve the results, meaning that the improvement is essentially free. Elzakker, who will receive his Ph.D. today (gefeliciteerd!), has already taken his findings to the German company Inventux Technologies, where he works.