Solar Cell Technology Opportunities: Looking To a Bright, Sunny Future
by GSI Staff June 06, 2011
What are the major technology challenges to future growth in the solar-cell industry? Where are the big-bang-for-the-buck R&D investment opportunities? These and other questions were put to a group of 72 internationally recognized experts in the field at a 2010 special workshop. Their conclusions are summarized in a new National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) publication: Photovoltaic Technologies for the 21st Century.
Workshop participants from industry, academia and government discussed the "Priority Challenges" for the four dominant photovoltaic technologies—crystalline silicon-based wafers, amorphous silicon and polycrystalline thin films, III-V multijunctions (a presently expensive but highly efficient technology that was first used in space applications), and more experimental excitonic and quantum-structured based technologies—and defined critical milestones on the path to solutions. Challenges range from reaching a better scientific understanding of the devices themselves to developing practical engineering data for determining optimal use of photovoltaics. Key questions include how can we simultaneously increase manufacturing yields, quality and performance of photovoltaic products; how can we better predict a solar cell's expected useful life and what are the connections between the properties of specific components and the performance of a final device; and how can we exploit this understanding to produce cheaper, more reliable and higher energy efficiency devices.
Further details available here.