WASHINGTON, September 13 - Developing renewable energy sources has never been more important, and solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies show great potential in this field. They convert direct sunlight into electricity with little impact on the environment. This field is constantly advancing, developing technologies that can convert power more efficiently and at a lower cost. To highlight breakthroughs in this area, the editors of Energy Express, a bi-monthly supplement to Optics Express, the open-access journal of the Optical Society (OSA), today published a special Focus Issue on thin-film photovoltaic materials and devices. The issue is organized and edited by Bernard Kippelen, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
"Alternative and cost effective energy production technologies are an ever-present challenge to today's society." said Kippelen. "This Focus Issue will present contributions from leading research groups from around the world that illustrate both the depth and the breadth of the research conducted on optical materials and devices in a variety of emerging thin-film photovoltaic technologies."
Lowering the cost of energy produced by photovoltaic technologies can be achieved by developing new materials and devices architectures that lend themselves to streamlined, high-volume manufacturing with greatly reduced semiconductor consumption. Further advances in new materials and novel device architectures are essential for the increase of market share of PV thin-film technologies. This issue examines the materials already on the market, as well as the latest technologies and methods for harvesting sunlight.
Key Findings & Selected Papers
The following papers are some of the highlights of the Energy Express Focus Issue on Thin-film Photovoltaic Materials and Devices. All are included in volume 18, issue S3 and can be accessed online at http://www.opticsinfobase.org/ee.
- A paper by Johanna Schmidtke gives a review of thin film
photovoltaic devices and materials already on the market. The paper
discusses recent dynamics in the on-grid PV market, as well as an
overview of commercial thin-film silicon, cadmium telluride, copper
indium gallium diselenide and organic PV modules. Johanna
Schmidtke, Lux Research Inc. pp. A477.
- Research from the Risø National Laboratory for
Sustainable Energy provides insight into the great potential and
challenges of the latest photovoltaic technologies based on organic
materials. The report provides an examination of the first trial of
grid-connected polymer solar panels and also gives a detailed cost
analysis. Andrew J. Medford, Mathilde R. Lilliedal, Mikkel
Jørgensen, Dennis Aarø, Heinz Pakalski, Jan Fyenbo,
and Frederik C. Krebs, the Risø National Laboratory for
Sustainable Energy, Technical University of Denmark. pp. A272.
- A paper by University of Michigan researchers illustrates how
optics can lead to creative new approaches to harvest sunlight more
efficiently via novel tandem solar cell architectures. Using
realistic material properties for organic absorbers, transport
layers, metallic electrodes, and DBR coatings 17% power conversion
efficiency can be reached. Brendan O'Connor, Denis Nothern, Kevin
P. Pipe, and Max Shtein, Departments of Mechanical Engineering and
Materials Science and Engineering, University of Michigan. pp.
- Research from the University of Texas at Austin discusses an
alternative to organic materials, inks or dispersions of inorganic
nanocrystals that enable printing of inorganic semiconductors under
moderate processing conditions. The paper describes such an
approach using CuInSe2 nanocrystals and reports encouraging
efficiencies based on ambient processing. This material system is
environmentally friendlier than other semiconductor nanocrystal
systems and facilitates incorporation of inexpensive solar cell in
variety of applications. Vahid A. Akhavan, Matthew G. Panthani,
Brian W. Goodfellow, Dariya K. Reid, and Brian A. Korgel,
Department of Chemical Engineering and Texas Materials Institute
and Center for Nano- and Molecular Science and Technology,
University of Texas at Austin. pp. A411.