A collaborative research team, consisting of University of Delaware mathematicians and engineers at Pennsylvania State University, has come up with a new design for thin-film solar cells.
A collaborative research team, consisting of University of Delaware mathematicians and engineers at Pennsylvania State University, has come up with a new design for thin-film solar cells with the potential to significantly increase the efficiency of these flexible panels that convert sunlight into electricity.
Solar energy has long been recognized as an important renewable resource to lessen our dependence on fossil fuels. Solar cell technology has continually improved, with scientists and engineers seeking to enhance such factors as efficiency, affordability, ease of installation and flexibility of uses.
But finding the right balance of those factors has been a challenge.
For example, standard solar cells, the kind seen on rooftops and in “farms” spread over acres of land, are reasonably efficient and increasingly affordable, but they are heavy and rigid. Thin-film cells — built from lightweight and flexible materials, making them useful for such applications as portable devices and vehicle roofs — are inexpensive and easy to manufacture, but they are much less efficient at converting light into power. Specialized types of thin-film technology are more efficient, but those cells are manufactured from expensive materials or are not long-lasting, severely limiting their use.
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