Little known methods to create more productive photovoltaic panels

By Shannon Combs

Even if silicon is the market common semiconductor in most electrical units, which includes the pv cells that photovoltaic panels employ to convert sunshine into power, it is hardly the most efficient product available. For instance, the semiconductor gallium arsenide and similar compound semiconductors give practically 2 times the performance as silicon in solar devices, but they are rarely utilized in utility-scale applications because of their high production value.

U. of I. ( teachers J. Rogers and X. Li researched lower-cost methods to create thin films of gallium arsenide which also allowed usefulness in the types of devices they might be incorporated into.

If you could lower significantly the price of gallium arsenide and some other compound semiconductors, then you can develop their own range of applications.

Generally, gallium arsenide is transferred in a single thin layer on a smaller wafer. Either the desired device is created directly on the wafer, or the semiconductor-coated wafer is break up into chips of the desired dimension. The Illinois group considered to put in multiple layers of the material on a individual wafer, making a layered, “pancake” stack of gallium arsenide thin films.

If you grow 10 levels in one growth, you simply have to load the wafer a single time. If you do this in ten growths, loading and unloading with temperature ramp-up and ramp-down take a lot of time. If you take into account exactly what is needed for every growth – the machine, the research, the time, the workers – the overhead saving this solution provides is a important price reduction.

Next the experts separately peel off the levels and shift them. To achieve this, the stacks alternate layers of aluminum arsenide with the gallium arsenide. Bathing the stacks in a solution of acid and an oxidizing agent dissolves the layers of aluminum arsenide, freeing the individual thin sheets of gallium arsenide. A soft stamp-like system selects up the layers, 1 at a time from the top down, for exchange to one other substrate – glass, plastic-type or silicon, depending on the application. After that the wafer can be reused for another growth.

By doing this it’s possible to generate a lot more material a lot more fast and a lot more price effectively. This process could make mass quantities of material, as opposed to merely the thin single-layer method in which it is usually grown.

Freeing the material from the wafer also starts the possibility of flexible, thin-film electronics made with gallium arsenide or some other high-speed semiconductors. To make units that may conform but still keep high efficiency, that is considerable.

In a paper shared online May twenty in the newspaper Nature (, the team explains its methods and demonstrates three kinds of devices utilizing gallium arsenide chips manufactured in multilayer stacks: light devices, high-speed transistors and photo voltaic cells. The authors also supply a comprehensive cost comparability.

An additional benefit of the multilayer technique is the release from area constraints, particularly important for photo voltaic cells. As the levels are taken out from the stack, they may be laid out side-by-side on one more substrate in order to produce a much bigger surface area, whereas the standard single-layer method confines area to the size of the wafer.

For photovoltaics, you want large area coverage to get as much sunlight as possible. In an extreme situation we may increase enough layers to have 10 times the area of the conventional.

Next, the team programs to explore more prospective unit applications and additional semiconductor resources which could adapt to multilayer growth.

About the Article writer – Shannon Combs publishes articles for the, her personal hobby website focused on ideas to assist home owners to conserve energy with solar power.

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1 Comment

  1. unstural disaster
    June 6, 2010

    Wonderful. LOL amazing that very few o you Dominicans could see the millions of tons of high grade silica that we frenchy’s are shipping out of Dominica every day for the manufacture of pv modules. I can say it now LOL as there is” no one, no law, not even the constitution…”LOL
    Can Stop us.

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