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Joule Physics Laboratory    

Date added: Jan 12, 2009

Research to Improve Solar Cells

The Sun. Salford research on improvements to solar cells

A new technique which could substantially improve the efficiency, cost effectiveness and durability of thin film solar cell panels is being worked on by University of Salford scientists.

Professor Arthur Hill and his team, from Physics, have received one year's funding from the Joule Centre to work on a method of laying down a more efficient solar cell material on a scale suitable for mass production.

There are problems associated with the large scale deposition of the new, highly efficient, Copper Indium diselenide (CIS) in thin film form, and that is what the Salford research aims to solve.

The University team will be working in partnership with locally based company, General Vacuum.

Professor Hill said: 'There are many benefits from being able to use CIS which could revolutionise the way in which we use solar power. At the moment the main obstacle to being able to mass produce CIS solar cells is a method to deposit thin films of the substance on an industrial scale.

'Following our initial very positive results using a method called PDMS, which is already used in the coated glass manufacturing industry, we are hopeful of being able to create a cost-effective and improved solar cell.'

The applications for the new cells are varied and, due to CIS's high resistance to radiation, they would be ideal for use on earth or in space. The cells can absorb 99% of sunlight which hits them and theoretically can convert more than 20% of this into useful electrical power.

Professor Hill concluded: 'In many parts of the world solar cell modules are proving to be a solution to the basic problem of energy supply. This research could represent a significant step-change in the way in which people are able to generate electricity from the sun.'

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