Feeds

Big Blue boffins hatch dirt-cheap solar cells

'Earth abundant' materials

A new approach to endpoint data protection

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. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low
Cheshire cat effect see neutrons and their properties walk different paths
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
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.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?