Feeds

US lab births flexy, stingy solar cells

99 per cent less silicon

Top three mobile application threats

A team of US research scientists have made a startling breakthrough in solar-cell development, creating flexible wire-based cell substrates that use just one per cent of the silicon needed for brittle and comparatively heavy conventional cells.

Solar cells made from this material would not only be less expensive than current photovoltaics, but due to their low weight and bendable structure the could be used in a wide variety of applications. Solar curtains, anyone?

The new technique is described in a paper nimbly entitled "Enhanced absorption and carrier collection in Si wire arrays for photovoltaic applications" published in Nature Materials by a team of researches from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The trick in this new method is to bundle one-micrometer-thick silicon wires and embed the resulting array vertically in a flexible polymer. Thus bundled, the paper claims, the array could capture and transmit up to 96 per cent of light in peak conditions while requiring only one per cent of the silicon needed by conventional cells.

What's more, the wire arrays would have work over "over a broad range of incidence angles," thus capturing light efficiently with less need to be reoriented.

The researchers achieved their best results when coating the ends of the wires with an anti-reflective material, and predict that solar cells built using this technique would achieve efficiencies of around 17 per cent. Today's commercial-grade solar cells are in the 10 to 15 per cent range.

That 17 per cent figure, if achieved, would be impressive for such a flexible, materials-stingy technology. ®

Bootnote

It's been a good few days for solar technology. Just last week, IBM researched announced a new low-cost photovoltaic compound. Perhaps the folks in Armonk and the Pasadena boffins should hold a conference call.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.