Well over half of the current $10B photovoltaic (PV) market is based on multi-crystalline silicon wafers that operate at an approximate 16% conversion efficiency. The best commercial silicon solar cells available today are 20% efficient, but are made from more expensive single crystal substrates. Current PV can compete with the high end of residential electricity rates without subsidy, however in order for grid-connected solar panels to compete in more of the electric power market; a substantial cost reduction is needed.
This project will explore texturing the multi-crystalline wafer using novel approaches to light trapping and metallization, two of the performance limiting factors in multi-crystalline solar cell technologies. This method will improve the efficiency of multi-crystalline solar cells by up to 25% -- with little added manufacturing cost. This improvement in efficiency could lower the cost per watt of solar energy, allowing it to become more competitive with grid electricity.
The technology from this project was spun out into a startup company, 1366 Technologies.