Santa Barbara’s Solar3D Inc. announced that it’s completed the design and is on track to complete a prototype of a “super-efficient” 3-D solar cell by the end of 2011. Holding out the promise of substantially increasing solar cell conversion efficiencies, the company believes its 3-D solar cell design “will dramatically change the economics of solar energy.”
The solar cell’s three-dimensional design traps sunlight “inside micro-photovoltaic (PV) structures, where photons bounce around until they are converted into electrons,” the company explains. The 3-D structure significantly reduces electron loss, which hinders 2-D solar cells’ conversion efficiencies. The idea for the design was inspired by light management techniques used in fiber optic devices.
“The completion of our prototype design is a key milestone toward bringing our next generation solar cell to market. It is taken our team a year of intensive research, development, and simulation. When complete, the production of this solar cell will transform the industry and the way consumers think about solar power and its applications,” CEO Jim Nelson said in a press release.
Solar3D in May announced that it had completed all the 3-D solar cell’s design elements, and had made adjustments making it better suited for mass manufacturing.
“Our objective is to make solar power affordable and available to the world. The development our new solar cell technology will allow the solar industry to generate power on an economically competitive basis in addition to its other advantages over traditionally-sourced power,” Nelson added. “Our manufacturing-oriented engineers are creating a product that is not only much more efficient but relatively inexpensive to produce in mass quantities.”
“By substantially increasing efficiency and retaining a low production cost, we will be able to contribute significantly to the industry’s pursuit of the SunShot initiative laid out by Energy Secretary, Stephen Chu, to bring the cost of solar electricity to grid parity.”
I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.