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EU funded project to develop more affordable solar cells

EU funded project to develop more affordable solar cells

Looking to boost European competitiveness in photovoltaics, Swiss facility Empa has launched an EU funded project to develop affordable, more efficient solar cells.

With a budget of €10million, the Scalenano project aims to achieve breakthroughs in the cost efficiency of photovoltaic devices and modules based on advanced thin film technologies.

This technology is said to offer higher material utilisation and lower module costs compared to wafer based silicon solar cells. However, any savings are currently negated by its vacuum based deposition processes which are difficult to control over large surfaces and require expensive equipment.

The Scalenano project – which runs until 2015 – will seek to counter this by developing vacuum free processes based on the electro deposition of nanostructured precursors and exploring other alternatives.

Empa's laboratory for thin films and photovoltaics will contribute to the project by investigating solution and nanoparticle based deposition of kesterite absorbers, front electrical contacts of transparent conducting oxides and supplying reference solar cells prepared by vacuum based techniques.

"Scalenano findings may find applications not only in photovoltaics but also in other fields such as smart windows and batteries," noted project leader Yaroslav Romanyuk.

Simon Fogg

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