September 15, 2008

New Method Makes More Efficient Solar Cell

U.S. scientists say they have devised a method of slicing wafers of germanium for use in more efficient types of solar power cells.

University of Utah researcher Dinesh Rakwal and Assistant Professor Eberhard Bamberg say their new method should lower the cost of such cells by reducing the waste and breakage of the brittle semiconductor.

Inexpensive solar cells are used mainly on spacecraft. But the researchers said they believe their improved wafer-slicing method will allow the use of germanium-based, high-efficiency solar cells in areas where cost is a hampering factor, said Bamberg.

Rakwal, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, added, "We're coming up with a more efficient way of making germanium wafers for solar cells to reduce the cost and weight of these solar cells and make them defect-free."

The study is to be published online in the Journal of Materials Processing Technology later this month or early October and will appear in the journal's print edition next year.