New Thin Film Solar Cell Technology from Oregon State University

A new innovative technology has been reported in a professional journal Current Applied Physics by engineers from Korea’s Yeungnam University and Oregon State University (OSU). This technology has the potential to reduce solar energy device costs and decrease material waste. The research work on this technology was supported by the National Science Foundation’s Process and Reaction Engineering Program.

This technology, which is faster, cost-effective and safer than other chemical approaches, can rapidly and continuously generate thin film absorbers meant for solar cells from compounds including copper indium diselenide.

Earlier methods to utilize this compound have relied on processes including electrodeposition, sputtering and evaporation. However, these processes need expensive vacuum system and exotic chemicals and can also be time-consuming.

The technique of chemical bath deposition has been followed for many decades. However, the limitations of this technique include the depletion of reactants and difficulty in controlling thickness. The new technology developed at Oregon State University addresses some of those limitations.

Researchers believe that eventually the thin film solar cells generated by this new technology can be utilized for developing solar energy roofing systems. Rather than installing solar panels on rooftops of industrial and residential buildings, the solar panel itself can serve as a roof, thereby eliminating the need for shingles and plywood.

Further research activity such as this technology is likely to spring out from the novel OSU-based, $2.7 million Oregon Process Innovation Center for Sustainable Solar Cell Manufacturing initiative, which will combine the expertise of around 20 faculties from the University of Oregon, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Portland State University and OSU.

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