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Grooved surface for light-weight solar power

EcoNote | May 20, 2019 | By:

A new solar cell design has been created by scientists at the University of Sheffield, in collaboration with energy technology company Power Roll. The result may prove that creating a new type of back-contacted solar cell is possible.

A recent Off Grid Energy Independence article reported that researchers demonstrated how an architecture based on a surface embossed with micro-grooves may prove to be more efficient and less costly in the production of solar modules. The researchers coated opposing walls of micro-grooves with different electrical contacts, and then filled the grooves with solution-processable semiconductors.

The process is said to remove many manufacturing steps currently involved in the production of photovoltaic (PV) modules and to allow the use of new materials. The researchers also report Power Roll’s design uses simple electrical interconnections; has the ability to tune electrical output to user demands; and removes the need for expensive conductive oxides—possible resource savings and attractive characteristics for consumers.

Power Roll predicts modules made with this design will weigh a fraction of conventional solar modules producing equal power. Less weight could mean greater access to PV technology for people living in areas of the world not conducive to transporting heavy panels. Other applications may include portable power generation and powering the Internet of Things.

Dr. Trevor McArdle, senior research scientist at Power Roll said, “Over the last 40 years, the majority of solar cells have been based on a conventional flat structure, in which layers of different materials are deposited one upon another to create the solar cell. However, we have developed a radically different architecture to make solar cells using a surface patterned by micro-grooves that individually are a fraction of the width of a human hair.”

Source: Off Grid Energy Independence

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