Physicists at Boston College have discovered a possible means to solving solar technology's "thick and thin" dilemma.
First reported in the online science journal collection, Physica Status Solidi, the nanoscale coax architecture, or nanocoax, takes its cue from radio technology (coaxial cables) that goes as far back as the mid 1800's.
Researchers at Boston College invented nanocoax in 2005, and patented their technology some time last year.
What is The "Thick and Thin" Dilemma?
Most thin-film solar technology is hampered by competing optical and electronic constraints.
A solar cell needs to be thick enough to collect sufficient light, but thin enough to extract current from. It also has to meet the challenges of the Staebler-Wronski effect -- a form of light degradation that decreases the longevity of cells.
Most groups looking for solutions, focus their research on the use of crystalline semiconductors. Boston College's scientists claim that their new nanocoax technology does not require crystalline materials -- making it easier to manufacture, and considerably more cost-efficient.
Nanoscale Coax Architecture:
Optically, the nanocoax is thick enough to collect light. But it's architecture, as seen in the photo below, is such that it allows a more efficient method of current extraction.
Other good news is that testing has found the nanocoax to run at about 8% efficiency--a better rate than any thin-film solar cells to date. Plus it appears to reduce the effect of light degradation (mentioned above).
“This nanocoax cell architecture," says co-author Michael Naughton, a professor of physics at Boston College, "does not require crystalline materials, and therefore offers promise for lower-cost solar power with ultra-thin absorbers. With continued optimization, efficiencies beyond anything achieved in conventional planar architectures may be possible, while using smaller quantities of less costly material."
Learn more about Solar Power on eBoom’s Solar Energy Learning Page.
Any opinion contained in this article is solely that of the writers, and does not necessarily shape or reflect the editorial opinions of Energy Boom. Energy Boom content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be advice regarding the investment merits of, or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of, any security identified on, or linked through, this site.