Low Cost, High Efficiency Solar Technology Developed

Picture: Anna Scafford (PD)

So much for the old “solar is too expensive” dodge.  Via ScienceDaily:

Researchers at RTI International have developed a new solar technology that could make solar energy more affordable, and thus speed-up its market adoption.

The RTI solar cells are formed from solutions of semiconductor particles, known as colloidal quantum dots, and can have a power conversion efficiency that is competitive to traditional cells at a fraction of the cost.

Solar energy has the potential to be a renewable, carbon-neutral source of electricity but the high cost of photovoltaics — the devices that convert sunlight into electricity — has slowed widespread adoption of this resource.

The RTI-developed solar cells were created using low-cost materials and processing techniques that reduce the primary costs of photovoltaic production, including materials, capital infrastructure and energy associated with manufacturing.

Preliminary analysis of the material costs of the technology show that it can be produced for less than $20 per square meter — as much as 75 percent less than traditional solar cells.

“Solar energy currently represents less than 1 percent of percent of the global energy supply, and substantial reductions in material and production costs of photovoltaics are necessary to increase the use of solar power,” said Ethan Klem, a research scientist at RTI and co-principal investigator of the project. “This technology addresses each of the major cost drivers of photovoltaics and could go a long way in helping achieve that goal.”

The technology was recently featured in a paper published in Applied Physics Letters.

In demonstration tests, the cells consistently provided a power conversion efficiency more than 5 percent, which is comparable to other emerging photovoltaic technologies.

“The efficiency of these devices is primarily limited by the amount of sunlight that is absorbed,” said Jay Lewis, a senior research scientist at RTI and the project’s other principal investigator. “There are many well-known techniques to enhance absorption, which suggests that the performance can increase substantially.”

The cells, which are composed of lightweight, flexible layers, have the potential to be manufactured using high volume roll-to-roll processing and inexpensive coating processes, which reduces capital costs and increases production. Unlike traditional solar cells, the RTI-developed cells can be processed at room temperature, further reducing input energy requirements and cost.

In addition to being low-cost, the new cells have several other key benefits, including higher infrared sensitivity, which allows the cells to utilize more of the available solar spectrum for power generation.


Read more ScienceDaily.

7 Comments on "Low Cost, High Efficiency Solar Technology Developed"

  1. Another solar technology that will never make it to the consumer market.

    I’ve lost track of the number of times a new breakthrough has “promised” to change the face of solar energy, only to quietly disappear or be licensed in a way which made it unavailable to actual consumers.

    I wonder why that is…

    • Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm |

      It says nothing about anything, now get back to work there’s bills to pay.

    • Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 7, 2012 at 9:05 pm |

      It says nothing about anything, now get back to work there’s bills to pay.

    • Kurt the Turk | Sep 8, 2012 at 1:14 am |

      Making something in a lab, and making it manufacturable and cheap is different.  Half the cost of solar energy is the panels, the other half is the installation, frames, dc to ac converter etc.  

      That said, I think this technology has promise.  They’ve found a way to take advantage of quantum mechanical properties.  They make small particles (quantum dots) which confine a high energy photon to get multiple lower energy electrons…pretty sweet stuff…and it can be done with abundant materials which also should stand up to a long life time in the sun.

  2. CosmicAmazing | Sep 7, 2012 at 9:02 pm |

    Dig in.

    Victor Klimov in Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has constructed a solar cell which can absorb the light of a specific wave length in such a way, that one photon can energize more than one electron. As soon as the electron absorbs a photon, it disappears for a very short moment into the quantum field. Being in the virtual state the electron can borrow energy from the vacuum and thereafter appears again in our reality. Now the electron can energize up to 7 other electrons. This leads to a theoretical coefficient of performance (COP) of 700%. A COP = 200% can be readily achieved and it has been. The experiment has also been replicated successfully by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden Colorado. [Herb Brody, “Solar Power – Seriously Souped Up.” New Scientist, May 27, 2006, p 45].

    Richard D. Schaller, Vladimir M. Agranovich and Victor I. Klimov; “High-efficiency carrier multiplication through direct photogeneration of multi-excitons via virtual single-exciton states.” Nature Physics Vol. 1, 2005, pp. 189-194.

    Richard D. Schaller, Melissa A. Petruska, and Victor I. Klimov; “Effect of electronic structure on carrier multiplication efficiency: Comparative study of PbSe and CdSe nanocrystals”; Appl. Phys. Lett. Vol. 87, 2005, 253102.

    Richard D. Schaller, Milan Sykora, Jeffrey M. Pietryga, and Victor I. Klimov, “Seven Excitons at a Cost of One: Redefining the Limits for Conversion Efficiency of Photons into Charge Carriers,” Nano Lett. Vol. 6, 2006, p. 424.

    Victor I. Klimov, “Spectral and Dynamical Properties of Multiexcitons in Semiconductor Nanocrystals,” Annual Review of Physical Chemistry, Vol. 58, No. 1, 2007, p. 635.

    M. C. Hanna, A. J. Nozik. “Solar conversion efficiency of photovoltaic and photoelectrolysis cells with carrier multiplication absorbers,” Journal of Applied Physics, vol. 100, No. 7, 2006, p. 07450.

    Sung Jin Kim, Won Jin Kim, Yudhisthira Sahoo, Alexander N. Cartwright, Paras N. Prasad, “Multiple exciton generation and electrical extraction from a PbSe quantum dot photoconductor,” Applied Physics Letters, Vol. 92, No. 3, 2008, p. 031107.

    Alberto Franceschetti, Yong Zhang, “Multiexciton Absorption and Multiple Exciton Generation in CdSe Quantum Dots,” Physical Review Letters, Vol. 100, No. 13, 2008, p. 136805.

    Hsiang-Yu Chen, Michael K. F. Lo, Guanwen Yang, Harold G. Monbouquette, Yang Yang, “Nanoparticle-assisted high photoconductive gain in composites of polymer and fullerene,” Nature Nanotechnology, Vol. 3 (9), 2008, p. 543.

    M.C. Beard, R.J. Ellingson, “Multiple exciton generation in semiconductor nanocrystals: Toward efficient solar energy conversion,” Laser & Photonics Review, Vol. 2, No. 5, 2008, p. 377.

    “Now Victor Klimov and colleagues at the Alamos National Laboratory have designed nanocrystals with cores and shells made from different semiconductor materials in such a way that electrons and holes are physically isolated from each other. The scientists said in such engineered nanocrystals, only one exciton per nanocrystal is required for optical amplification. That, they said, opens the door to practical use in laser applications.” [“Scientists Create New Type of Nanocrystal,” PHYSORG.COM, Nanotechnology, May 24, 2007.


    Zenc is right.

  3. CosmicAmazing | Sep 7, 2012 at 9:10 pm |

    Double post.. Damn u Disqus!

  4. as Christina
    replied I didnt even know that some one can make $5694 in a few weeks
    on the computer. have you seen this web site


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