Chemical Process Helps Sunlight Reach Solar Cells

Chemical Process Helps Sunlight Reach Solar Cells

Researchers at the Rice University have created a new chemical process for making materials that help sunlight reach the solar cells’ active elements, thus increasing their efficiency. »

Physicist Dr. Josef Pal examines the impact of different magnetic fields on liquid metals at the HZDR’s MULTIMAG facility.

Project Aims to Recycle Silicon Waste From Solar Cell Production

The most widespread type of commercial solar cells is still silicon-based solar cells, either single crystal or multicrystalline, as they are both relatively inexpensive to produce and have a reasonable conversion efficiency. When producing silicon wafers, though, the photovoltaic industry loses about 50 percent of the valuable original material. The objective of the EU project SIKELOR is to process silicon waste in an industrially viable and a resource-friendly manner. »

Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum located on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis, as viewed from the west, from the Washington Avenue Bridge.

New ‘Electronic Ink’ Technology Can Make Solar Cell Prices Plummet

Researchers in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, have discovered a novel method for producing “electronic ink” using nonthermal plasma. With this technology electronic touch pads that cost just a few dollars and solar cells that cost the same as roof shingles are one step closer to reality. »

Lithium borosilicid framework (Image: T. Fässler, M. Zeilinger / TUM)

Silicon-Boron Electrode to Increase Li-Ion Batteries’ Capacity

The electrode material has a decisive influence on a battery’s capacity. So far, the negative electrode typically consists of graphite, whose layers can store lithium atoms. While silicone could be much more efficient choice, most silicon-based designs have a major flaw—structures tend to crack or break easily when they are used repeatedly. Scientists at the Technical University Munich have now developed a material made of boron and silicon that could smooth the way to systems with higher capacities. »

This is an illustration of a new battery electrode made from a composite of hydrogel and silicon nanoparticles (Si NP). Each Si NP is encapsulated in a conductive polymer surface coating and connected to a three-dimensional hydrogel framework. (Credit: Yi Cui, Stanford University)

Cheap Silicon Electrodes Improve Lithium-Ion Battery Performance

The most commercially popular negative electrode material used in lithium-ion batteries is graphite. While silicone could be a much more efficient choice, all silicon-based designs have a major flaw—these structures tend to crack or break easily when they are used repeatedly. Scientists from the University of Maryland have recently proposed to solve this problem by growing special silicon nanostructurs. Now, researchers at the Stanford University have significantly improved the performance of lithium-ion batteries by creating novel electrodes made of silicon and conducting polymer hydrogel, a spongy substance similar to the material used in soft contact lenses and other household products. »

Multiple views of NIST's photoelectrochemical hydrogen cell. Side schematic [A] shows princial components of the cell. Electrodes on the top are titanium toped with platinum. An incoming photon generates a electron (e) and hole (h). Microscope image [B] shows top of the cell surface with cylinderical electrodes and scanning laser beam. Photo-current scan [C] shows relatively high current around the base of the electrodes, while the electrochemical scan [D] shows a complex pattern of hydrogen generation on and around the electrode (Credit: Esposito, Levin/NIST)

Researchers Develop New Way to Produce Hydrogen From Water and Sunlight

Using a combination of microanalytic techniques that at the same time image photoelectric current and chemical reaction rates across a surface on a micrometer scale, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have shed new light on what may become a cost-effective way to generate hydrogen gas directly from water and sunlight. »

Cheaper Way to Protect Silicon May Prove Beneficial for Solar Cells

Cheaper Way to Protect Silicon May Prove Beneficial for Solar Cells

Researchers at MIT have developed a new way to protect the silicon surface layer from the environmental factors, one that requires less heating and energy than the traditional coating technique. Coating process, otherwise known as “passivation”, is essential to prevent oxydation that can ruin the electrical properties of silicon. Availability of a new passivation method could make it easier to produce solar cells and other silicon-based devices. »