Firm claims breakthrough on efficient solar cells

A project to create a super efficient solar cell has proved successful, according to Natcore Solar.

The firm said that a research programme at Rice University has successfully encapsulated silicon quantum dots with a uniform coating of silicon dioxide.

The programme, conducted by Professor Andrew Barron, is a major milestone in the development of an all silicon, highly efficient tandem solar cell, the company claimed.  Encapsulising individual silicon nanocrystals – quantum dots – in silicon dioxide is a breakthrough technology.

silicon quantum dotsThe coating uses Rice University’s liquid phase deposition – Natcore has an exclusive worldwide licence for that technology. Natcore will now create multiple layers of silicon quantum dots in 3D arrays that will absorb shorter wavelength light than in ordinary bulk silicon.

Natcore estimates that the stacked arrays will increase the efficiency at a lower cost per extra watt, with efficiency of over 30 percent for tandem solar cells being likely.

According to Natcore, tandem solar cells are currently used in space applications but earth based appps need to use “exotic” semiconducting materials for the upper layers. But LPD tech eliminates the need for the expensive technology.

Chuck Provini, the Natcore CEO, said: “This is a huge step towards a super efficient solar cell.”