March 27, 2008: DOE to Invest Up to $13.7 Million in 11 Solar Cell Projects
All of the projects will involve researching ways to make high-performance solar cells more effective by using different metals, alloys, and cell designs. One project will try to reduce bottlenecks in the qualification testing for concentrating solar cells, two will explore better methods of building crystalline silicon solar cells, four will explore solar cells built from thin films of semiconducting materials, one will combine an organic (plastic) semiconductor with arrays of titanium dioxide nanotubes, and two will try to create multijunction solar cells by depositing thin layers of materials (amorphous silicon and indium phosphide) onto silicon solar cells.
Multijunction solar cells convert more sunlight into electricity by employing multiple layers of photovoltaic material, with each layer capturing a different part of the solar spectrum. While current commercial multijunction solar cells have three active layers, the project conducted by North Carolina State University and Spectrolab Inc. will involve building a four-junction solar cell with a targeted efficiency of 45 percent, that is, the cell would be able to convert 45 percent of the sunlight hitting it into electricity.
Publication date: 03/24/2008