A new European Union funded research project called “ROD-SOL” aims to improve the efficiency of thin-film solar cells using nanotechnology. The three year project has a budget of EUR 4 million and may yield a breakthrough for solar power.
Solar technology represents one of the most promising alternatives to traditional power sources. Sunlight is free, available worldwide and produces no greenhouse gases.
While current photovoltaic cells have an energy conversion efficiency rate around 18% (Mitsubishi holds the world record at 18.9%), this efficiency is set back by the extremely costly nature of producing such cells. Thin-film solar cells are expected to dominate the future market due to their low production cost and versatile nature. The goal of the EU-funded research is to boost the efficiency of thin-film cells (currently around 10%) by implementing silicon nano-rods.
The ROD-SOL project hopes to develop and optimize the synthesis of silicon nano-rods onto either metal foils or glass. Researchers propose that the tiny structures are perfect for trapping light energy in a way that it can be transformed into electricity.
I have been tracking the progress of thin-film solar materials for some time, and feel that this research will prove to be a definite benefit for the technology. For more information on thin-film solar cells, check out PowerPlastic®.
Image Credit: Neil Wykes at Flickr under a Creative Commons liscense
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