|Posted on August 3, 2015 at 8:55 PM|
Electrodes on the side of solar cells that face the sun need to be, not only electrically conductive, but also transparent to absorb light. In conventional solar cells, this transparency is achieved by using thin strips of silver on the surface, or electrically conductive indium tin oxide (ITO). This could be an issue for large-scale deployment of solar cells, because silver is relatively expensive and indium is a relatively rare-earth material.
Manuela Göbelt, a doctoral graduate student in Prof. Silke Christiansen's lab at the Institute of Nanoarchitectures for Energy-Conversion at Helmholtz-Zuntrum in Berlin, demonstrated a new method to fabricate transparent electrodes, which uses only a fraction of silver needed for conventional solar cell electrodes: 0.3 grams of silver per square meter, compared to the 15-20 grams in conventional cells. Göbelt first made a solution of silver nanowires, and transferred the solution onto a silicon solar cell substrate. The solvent evaporated, leaving silver nanowires organized into a network that is transparent and conductive. This method offers the potential to bring substantial economic and environmental benefits and hasten large-scale production of solar cells. Details of the work were published in the journal Nano Energy, and has been featured in a number of science media, including Science Daily and Phys.Org.
Prof. Christiansen currently serves as the Director of the Institute of Nanoarchitectures for energy conversion at the Helmholtz Center for Materials and Energy and as a group leader for "Photonic Nanoarchitectures" at the Max-Planck-Institute for the Science of Light in Germany. Her research areas lie in the field of nanomaterials for energy applications, sensing and opto-electronics. She has co-authored more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and 10 patent applications.
- Written by Eugene Choi, Edited by Paulette Clancy
(Photo credit: Göbelt: Provided by Göbelt, credit to Björn Hoffmann; Christiansen: Provided by and used with permission from Prof. Christiansen).