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Solar cells with nanocrystal ink reach 18 percent efficiency

Josh Hall, on his way to catch a plane, sends us this news from Technology Review’s Katherine Bourzac:

A California company is using silicon ink patterned on top of silicon wafers to boost the efficiency of solar cells. The Sunnyvale, CA, firm Innovalight says that the inkjet process is a cheaper route to more-efficient solar power. Using this process, the company has made cells with an efficiency of 18 percent…

Innovalight’s ink is a suspension that contains silicon nanocrystals. Although the recipe is proprietary, Antoniadis says the company has good control over two key factors: the size of the nanocrystals and their printability. By making the crystals just a few nanometers in diameter, the company has lowered the temperature required to bind them to the underlying wafer. The silicon ink also contains an organic compound that helps suspend the silicon, which otherwise tends to sink to the bottom, thus making the liquid compatible with inkjet printing. Because the process requires lower temperatures and can be performed on thinner silicon wafers than those used in conventional cell manufacturing, it helps bring the price down, says Innovalight’s CEO Conrad Burke.

One Response to “Solar cells with nanocrystal ink reach 18 percent efficiency”

  1. Robert Says:

    Anybody know if they (Innovalight) have done any life-testing on this? Does this process also help solar cells operate at the high efficiency for a longer period of time? I hope so.

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