Feeds

Big Blue boffins hatch dirt-cheap solar cells

'Earth abundant' materials

Boost IT visibility and business value

IBM researchers have developed a new class of solar-powered electricity-generating cells that they claim will bring photovoltaic cells closer to cost parity with conventional energy sources.

The researchers from IBM's T. J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York have published their findings in a paper entitled "High-Efficiency Solar Cell with Earth-Abundant Liquid-Processed Absorber," available here (PDF).

The materials used in the new cell are copper, zinc, tin, selenium, and sulfur - the latter two "earth-abundant" materials being in a chalcogenide compound, key to the photovoltaic properties of the cell.

The use of these materials bypasses problems inherent in the more-common components of solar cells. The heavy metal cadmium, for example, has toxicity complications, and indium and tellurium (also a chalcogen) are rare and therefore unable to support, as the paper says, more than "a small fraction of our growing energy needs, which are expected to double to 27TW by 2050."

Another advantage of the new cell is that it's manufactured using a simple, non-vacuum process based on what the researchers call a "slurry-based coating method" that allows the photovoltaic layer to be applied by printing, spraying, spin-coating, or other liquid-based techniques.

The efficiency of the new experimental cell is currently at 9.6 per cent, which approaches that of most commerically available solar cells today. IBM's research, however, is still at an early stage, and the new "earth-abundant" cells may very well match or surpass current - relatively expensive - cells and do so at a lower cost and with higher availability. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
BAT-GOBBLING urban SPIDER QUEENS swell to ENORMOUS SIZE
But they'd lose a deathmatch against the coming Humvee-sized, armoured Arctic ones
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
TRANSMUTATION claims US LENR company
Ten points of stuff out of a five pound bag
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?