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Silicon Solar Cells

Silicon solar cells are the workhorse of photovoltaic technology with a market share of over 85% of all solar cells manufactured. Unfortunately, the price per peak watt of silicon solar cells has only slowly come down, following the so called “80% learning curve” which describes the observation that for every doubling of the global solar cell module manufacturing capacity the module price will drop by 20%.

The Kortshagen group is exploring new routes to lower the cost of silicon solar cell manufacture. The focus is on thin film solar cells materials that alleviate the need for expensive silicon wafers. Work on amorphous silicon film deposition addresses enhancing the films' stability and electronic properties by blending them with nanometer-sized silicon crystals. Work on microcrystalline silicon films is geared towards enhancing the speed with which such films are produced through thermal treatment of amorphous silicon by embedding nanocrystal seeds in the initial amorphous silicon films.

This work is supported by the National Science Foundation and by the Xcel Energy Renewable Development Fund. Image courtesy of Jason Trask.

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