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Solar cells sliced and diced

An selection approach of creating light-sensitive semiconductors may just result in high-efficiency photo voltaic cells, higher night-vision cameras and a bunch of different programs, in step with analysis printed on this week’s factor of Nature.

A workforce led by way of John Rogers, a fabrics scientist on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has evolved a doubtlessly cost-effective solution to produce microchips fabricated from the semiconductor gallium arsenide, which responds smartly to gentle. A transfer-printing method is used to peel and print skinny layers of the semiconductor onto glass or plastic, which by way of overcoming a long-standing downside in gallium arsenide production may just turn out to be the solar-cell trade.

Silicon is the workhorse of the fashionable semiconductor trade and is utilized in the whole thing from photo voltaic cells to virtual cameras. But for many years, scientists have identified that in terms of shooting gentle, there are higher fabrics in the market. Certain varieties of semiconductors can soak up gentle a lot better than silicon, so make higher photo voltaic cells and infrared-detection units.

Gallium arsenide is without doubt one of the maximum studied silicon choices. It can theoretically convert about 40% of incident photo voltaic radiation to electrical energy, making it two times as fine as silicon. Its performance makes gallium arsenide the fabric of selection for development photo voltaic cells for spacecraft.

But like its easiest programs, the cost of gallium arsenide is sky-high. According to Rogers, that is partially as a result of top quality wafers of gallium arsenide should be grown in in moderation managed chambers. Once grown, the thick wafers are generally sliced up, however best their surfaces are used. Much of the expensive subject matter is largely wasted, says Rogers.

(Nature News)

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