By Dr. Cameron Chai
Cleanfield Alternative Energy has updated its collaborative venture of Nanowire Solar Cell on “Next Generation Solar Cell".
Recently, the International Science and Technology Partnerships Program (ISTPP) grant has been provided to the company as well as to Hyperion Shanghai Drive Technology, Zhejiang and McMaster Universities, to advance a novel photovoltaic (PV) nanowire solar cell developed from cheap substrates.
The expertise of McMaster University to fabricate nanowires and Zhejiang University’s ability to characterize opticals for devices and deposition of electrodes will help develop the nanowire in a better manner. A semiconductor nanowire will be produced using the ISTPP funds. The nanowire is intended to minimize the expenditure for production and enhance the efficacy of PV cell.
The nanowires are low-cost and have better efficiency when compared to PV cells from thin film technology. The 1-5 µ long, single-dimensional rods have a thickness of 10-100 nm. The vapour-liquid-solid (VLS) method is used to produce nanowires. Instead of using high cost germanium substrates, inexpensive substrates can be used to grow the nanowires, faster at a rate of about 10 µ/h. Hence, the production expenses shall be minimized.
Due to this inexpensive method, the nanowire PV cells can be commercially used in roof top, solar farm and other concentrator PV market sectors.
Therefore, a cost effective technology to produce two-junction concentrator cell and nanowires with better quality has been developed by McMaster with Cleanfield. The two-junction concentrator cell is currently under development.
Mr. Mihail Stern, who serves as the CTO of Cleanfield, described that the nanowires provided the aliberty for combining the substances needed to improve the efficacy of PV cells. The efficacy for converting light energy to electrical energy can be used as metrics for PV cells. The technology for nanowire will ease the access to solar panels with minimal expense.