Better solar cells

Published: Friday 30 September 1994

A new solar cell design could slash the cost of producing solar electricity by at least 80 per cent, claim researchers at the University of South Wales in Australia (Environmental Science & Technology, Vol 28, No 8).

Conventional cells use expensive high quality silicon 400 microns thick but the metal conductor arranged on the top of the cell blocks the sun's rays, lowering the cell's efficiency.

The new design employs relatively cheap low-grade silicon 20 microns thick with the metal conductor placed in laser-etched grooves. The metal conductor does not interfere with the incident rays and enhances gathering of the light-generated charges.

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