Glass microparticles enhance solar cells efficiency

November 20, 2017, ITMO University
The structure of the new solar cell coating. Credit: ITMO University

Scientists from ITMO University have suggested a new solar cell coating that combines features of an electrode and those of a light-trapping structure. The coating enabled researchers to cut down on reflected light and avoid solar cell overheating, thus increasing its overall efficiency by 20 percent. Moreover, the suggested method may be attractive for industrial applications due to its relatively low cost and simplicity. The results of the research were published in Optics Letters.

An entire range of materials can be used today for solar cell production. Solar cells based on amorphous silicon, for instance, are basically thin transparent films that may be applied to any surface including window panes. When it comes to manufacturing solar cells, it is crucial to find ways to diminish light reflection from cells and avoid transparent overheating, which prevents solar cells from working properly. Another key issue is to optimize the thickness of an active layer so that each photon reaching the solar cell is converted to electricity.

Now, scientists from ITMO University have devised a novel way to address these issues by putting silica particles inside the top electrode. The resulting structure functioned as an electrode as well as a light-trapping coat focusing the light on the solar cell. "To create such structures on the surface of a solar cell, we use the method of of aluminia zinc oxide. We literally build these electrodes atom by atom," explains Mikhail Omelyanovich, lead author of the paper. "As a result, overall is improved by 20 percent. What is more, such an electrode can be used for thin solar composed of any material beyond ."

It took the team several years to develop an affordable solar cell manufacturing method that would appeal to the industry. "Three years ago, we tried to cover the cell surface with microspheres. Despite improving light absorption significantly, the major drawback was a high reflectance rate. We considered removing the upper part of the microspheres so as to make something similar to a lens that would focus the light on the solar cell. However, while working on practical realization of this idea we found a much better structure. On the whole, the final solution exceeded our expectations based on theoretical calculations," says Mikhail.

According to the authors, the manufacturing of with such surface coatings does not require complex technology and the process may be easily adapted for mass production.

Explore further: Solar scientists rough up silicon panels to boost light capture

More information: Mikhail M. Omelyanovich et al, Wide-angle light-trapping electrode for photovoltaic cells, Optics Letters (2017). DOI: 10.1364/OL.42.003726

Related Stories

Semi-transparent perovskite solar cells for solar windows

May 22, 2017

Scientists are exploring ways to develop transparent or semi-transparent solar cells as a substitute for glass walls in modern buildings with the aim of harnessing solar energy. But this has proven challenging, because transparency ...

New way to make low-cost solar cell technology

November 14, 2016

Researchers at ANU have found a new way to fabricate high efficiency semi-transparent perovskite solar cells in a breakthrough that could lead to more efficient and cheaper solar electricity.

Efficiency of silicon solar cells climbs past 26 percent

March 21, 2017

(Tech Xplore)—A team of researchers working at Kaneka Corporation has broken the record for silicon-based solar cell efficiency by producing a cell that was tested to be 26.3-percent efficient—an increase of 0.7 percent ...

New efficiency record for low-cost solar cell

April 4, 2017

Researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) have achieved a new record efficiency for low-cost semi-transparent perovskite solar cells in a breakthrough that could bring down the cost of generating solar electricity.

Recommended for you

Sculpting stable structures in pure liquids

February 21, 2019

Oscillating flow and light pulses can be used to create reconfigurable architecture in liquid crystals. Materials scientists can carefully engineer concerted microfluidic flows and localized optothermal fields to achieve ...

How to freeze heat conduction

February 21, 2019

Physicists have discovered a new effect, which makes it possible to create excellent thermal insulators which conduct electricity. Such materials can be used to convert waste heat into electrical energy.

Water is more homogeneous than expected

February 21, 2019

In order to explain the known anomalies in water, some researchers assume that water consists of a mixture of two phases, even under ambient conditions. However, new X-ray spectroscopic analyses at BESSY II, ESRF and Swiss ...

Correlated nucleons may solve 35-year-old mystery

February 20, 2019

A careful re-analysis of data taken at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has revealed a possible link between correlated protons and neutrons in the nucleus and a 35-year-old mystery. ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.