Researchers in the US and Korea have demonstrated feasibility to use continuous flow microreactors to produce thin-film absorbers for solar cells, a process they say is a promising low-cost alternative for thin-film PV manufacturing.
April 28, 2010 – Researchers in the US and Korea have demonstrated feasibility to use continuous flow microreactors to produce thin-film absorbers for solar cells, a process they say is a promising low-cost alternative for thin-film PV manufacturing.
The work from Oregon State U. researchers, reported in Current Applied Physics, seeks to address several issues with the deposition of thin-film absorbers for solar cells such as copper indium diselenide (CIS). Previous approaches dependent upon sputtering, evaporation, and electrodeposition are time-consuming and/or require expensive vacuum systems or exotic chemicals, raising production costs. An alternative is a low-cost chemical bath deposition technique, normally performed as a batch process; however, thickness is difficult to control due to changes in the growth solution, and also is limited by depletion of reactants.
The technology developed by OSU assistant prof. Chih-hung Chang and collaborators at Yeungnam U. in Korea deposits nanostructure films on various surfaces in a continuous flow microreactor, which they say is a safer, faster, and more economical than other chemical solution approaches. “This system can produce thin-film solar absorbers on a glass substrate in a short time, and that’s quite significant,” a first for this technique, said Chang in a statement. Further work will focus on process control, testing the finished solar cell, improving efficiency to rival vacuum-based technology, and scaling the process to commercialization.
From the abstract:
“If we could produce roofing products that cost-effectively produced solar energy at the same time, that would be a game changer,” Chang said. “All solar applications are ultimately a function of efficiency, cost and environmental safety, and these products might offer all of that.”