December 1, 2008

Holey silicon promises better solar cells

Fill silicon with regularly-spaced microscopic holes and you can increase the amount of sunlight the silicon absorbs, potentially boosting silicon solar cell performance.

The silicon photonic crystal traps light, which increases the amount of light the material absorbs. Traditional solar cells are made of various types of solid silicon. Measurements of the photonic crystal show that despite the holes it conducts electricity well enough to use in solar cells.

Photonic crystal silicon solar cells would capture more sunlight and therefore produce more electricity than traditional solar cells of the same efficiency.

Research paper:
Tailoring the Electrical Properties of Inverse Silicon Opals - A Step Towards Optically Amplified Silicon Solar Cells
Advanced Materials, published online November 14, 2008

Researchers' homepages:
Materials Chemistry Research Group, University of Toronto
Advanced Photovoltaics and Devices Research Group, University of Toronto

Related stories and briefs:
Crystal promises more light -- related research

Back to ERN December 1/8, 2008



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