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Power Technology

Berkeley Lab Develops Technology To Make Photovoltaics Out of Any Semiconductor 55

Posted by samzenpus
from the easy-solar dept.
First time accepted submitter bigvibes writes "A technology that would enable low-cost, high efficiency solar cells to be made from virtually any semiconductor material has been developed by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley. This technology allows for plentiful, relatively inexpensive semiconductors, such as metal oxides, sulfides and phosphides that had previously been considered unsuitable for solar cells because of the difficulty in tailoring their properties by chemical means."
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Berkeley Lab Develops Technology To Make Photovoltaics Out of Any Semiconductor

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 29, 2012 @03:42PM (#40810671)

    Pretty good summary! The journal article (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/nl3020022) discusses efficiencies for silicon, a well understood semiconductor used as a test case. The effect can improve silicon Schottky barrier cells from 8% to almost 20% efficiency. (Note that Schottky cells are a metal-semiconductor junction, not the typical commercial chemically-doped silicon that gets around 20-25%.)

    The exciting thing about this technique is that you can now take low-efficiency (10%) Schottky or heterojunction cells made with (literally) dirt-cheap materials (rust, sulfides, etc) and convert them into low-cost, high-efficiency (perhaps ~15-20%) cells. Then the module cost is low, and the installation costs can be low too (as you don't need to buy as many panels and cover as much ground for a certain amount of generated power).

  • by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @06:11PM (#40812257) Homepage Journal

    Well, when the US tries to encourage local companies and startups to take advantage of new technologies, and it backfires, then the government gets blamed (see the Solyndra kerfluffle.) Can't win.

    Yes but Made In China has nothing to do with that.

    Made In China: because our environmental controls are effectively nonexistent compared to yours.

    Sure there's cost-of-labor (etc) factors too but in these High-Tech (ie lots of mostly toxic chemicals somewhere in the manufacturing process) industries, cost of containing (or more often than not, cleaning-up-after) pollution is prohibitive.

    Someone needs to educate these companies that doing all your toxic production in a foreign country is functionally equivalent to a goldfish swimming to the other side of the bowl to take a crap.

  • by gaelfx (1111115) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @08:49PM (#40813505)

    You know, reading this gave me an idea. /. should have something like this for every article (or at least articles such as this that require some explanation). they could make a competition out of it, and feature the winning comment in some way that makes it easy for us laymen to see when we choose to view the comments. Just a thought.

    Nice explanation, btw. I never really understood what an electric field was before!

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