New flexible and lightweight solar cell developed by scientists

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Sydney, Feb 16 (ANI): Reports indicate that scientists in the US have developed a new flexible and lightweight solar cell, which uses a fraction the amount of silicon used in conventional cells, while still achieving high light conversion rates.

According to a report in ABC science, the new solar cell design has been developed by Materials Professor Harry Atwater of the Caltech, along with his colleagues.

The team believes that their new design could be used in applications ranging from car sun roofs to devices in clothing.

The key is to the cells high efficiency is its use of small micrometre sized rods of silicon instead of traditional silicon wafers.

Incoming light bounces back and forth multiple times between the rods in the panel until it's absorbed.

Small alumina nano-particle reflectors are placed between the rods to ensure the light is guided as efficiently as possible.

The scientists claim that up to 85 percent of usable sunlight is absorbed by the new panels, compared to approximately 17 percent efficiency with current commerically available solar cells.

The silicon wire arrays offer a mechanically flexible alternative to conventional silicon wafer photovoltaics, and are much better at absorping in the near-infrared spectrum, according to Atwater.

This allows overall sunlight absorption to exceed that of an equivalent volume of randomly textured silicon panels over a wide range of sunlight angles.

According to Professor Martin Green of the School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering at the University of New South Wales, "The good absorption demonstrated using the sparse array of silicon wires is interesting."

"The challenge with silicon wires has been getting good voltage output, because surface areas are large and this ultimately limits voltage," said Green.

"However, the sparse array's total surface area need not be a lot more than a thin conventional cell of the same volume, and that gives some hope here," he added. (ANI)

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