‘Swiss cheese’ design ups thin film solar cells’ efficiency potential

Washington, May 7: Researchers have developed a bold new design modeled after “Swiss cheese” for thin film solar cells that requires significantly less silicon – and may boost their efficiency.

The team at Oerlikon Solar in Switzerland and the Institute of Physics’ photovoltaic group focused their new design on optically thick cells that are strongly absorbing, while the distance between the electrodes remains very tight.

“Our new 3D design of solar cells relies on the mature, robust absorber deposition technology of plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition, which is a technology already used for amorphous silicon-based electronics produced for liquid crystal displays,” said Milan Vanecek.

“We just added a new nanostructured substrate for the deposition of the solar cell.

This nanostructured substrate consists of an array of zinc oxide (ZnO) nanocolumns or, alternatively, from a “Swiss cheese” honeycomb array of micro-holes or nano-holes etched into the transparent conductive oxide layer (ZnO).

“This latter approach proved successful for solar cell deposition,” Vanecek added.

Researchers have described their design in the American Institute of Physics’ journal Applied Physics Letters. (ANI)