New coating improves efficiency of solar cells

February 27th, 2008 - 4:51 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Feb 27 (IANS) Scientists in a US university have developed a special coating that increases the energy efficiency of solar cells by about one-and-a-half times. A Northwestern University research team found that energy from sunlight falling only on a patch of the Mojave Desert is enough to power all of the US - if it is tapped efficiently.

The operative word, however, is “efficiently”. At present, solar cell technologies are not only inefficient but are also too costly and cumbersome for large-scale commercial and industrial applications.

The researchers seem to have come up with a way to partially overcome this problem.

They have developed an anode coating that boosts efficiency of solar energy power conversion from 3-4 to 5.2-5.6 percent.

This breakthrough promises to bring researchers and developers worldwide closer to the goal of producing cheaper solar cells. It will reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and cut down on carbon emissions.

A paper, focussing on “engineering” organic material-electrode interfaces in bulk-heterojunction organic solar cells, has been published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Northwestern researchers employed a laser deposition technique that coats the anode with a nano-thick layer of nickel oxide. The oxide coating is cheap, electrically homogeneous and non-corrosive.

In the case of model bulk-heterojunction cells, the team has increased the cell voltage by 40 percent and the power conversion efficiency from approximately three and four percent to 5.2 to 5.6 percent.

The researchers are currently fine-tuning the anode coating technique for increased efficiency.

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