THIRD GENERATION SOLAR CELLS:HOW RESEARCHERS STRIVE TO MAKE MANUFACTURING MORE EFFECTIVE AND COST-EFFICIENT
Researchers are now striving to make third generation solar cells more effective and cost-efficient to manufacture, hoping to make them more readily available. Researchers at Kennesaw State University have managed to fabricate delicate solar cells that are about a hundred times thinner than a human hair. The future of solar power is in flexible solar cells. A number of nano-materials have been investigated over the years to fabricate third gen solar cells. The potential offered by the new technology is immense. These flexible cells can be integrated with wearable electronics, self-charging cell phones and backpacks as well as electricity generating window layers on skyscrapers. The ability of solar power to supply large quantities of renewable, clean and cheap energy is about to exponentially increase.
The current research focuses on fabricating these cells on plastic substrates to manufacture flexible solar cells. In practice, these solar panels can be extremely beneficial after high-intensity storms. Disaster relief teams can transport these solar panels to generate power at the affected site. Building developers can also use it for smart building applications, such as transparent panels for windows. This will let skyscrapers to generate solar power and make them more energy efficient.
INNOVATIVE MATERIALS AND IMPROVED EFFICIENCY
The solar panels that are in the market today use first gen silicon cells, which are fragile, expensive and bulky, which limits their portability. The most promising materials for future solar cells are the ones used by the Kennesaw State university research team – an extremely thin hybrid noncrystalline Perovskite film. Instead of using an expensive silicon substrate, they will be able to fabricate the solar cells on glass substrates like the ones used in beverage bottles and windows.
The researchers are currently exploring the fabrication process so that they can develop the solar cells on metal foils or flexible plastics, without the use of expensive materials, clean rooms or million dollar equipment. Silicon is not a good absorber of light and this new technology will enable us to create high efficiency solar cells at a fraction of the cost. The newly engineered Perovskite crystals can absorb a much wider spectrum of light from the sun compared to silicon on a much thinner film.
Usually, solar cells are fabricated in a clean room, which is a controlled environment used for manufacturing electronics which is free of dust and other such contaminants. Over the past few years, researchers who have spent their time studying solar energy have come up with a number of ways to cut costs. With this development, the cost of the raw materials that go into making third gen solar cells will be much less compared to electronic equipment-grade silicon.
A cutback in the fabrication and material costs means that there is going to be a sizeable reduction in the overall cost it takes to produce electricity, thereby saving consumers a lot of money. By the year 2040, solar power will have been completely assimilated by the mainstream as researchers come up with new technologies to use the available space for generating more power, thereby bringing down the cost of solar cells. It is an exciting time for renewable energy technologies across the world.