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Hunt for super solar cell begins

Posted: 30 Jun 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:solar cell  solar power  solar energy 

Eleven research groups from eight countries are working together to develop highly efficient thin-film solar cells for the next generation of more cost-effective solar modules. Coordinated by the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW), the European research project called Sharc25 was started in May.

The project will run for 3.5 years and receive $5.1 million in EU funding through the Horizon 2020 programme plus $1.8 million provided by the Swiss government to support the participation of Swiss partners including Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology. The results are expected to give the European solar industry a major boost.

The project is quite ambitious; it aims at an energy conversion efficiency in thin-film solar cells made out of copper indium gallium (di)selenide, or CIGS for short, of up to 25 per cent, topping the previous best mark by over three percentage points. Empa has long been working on CIGS thin film cells on flexible plastic substrates—and indeed holds several world records in energy conversion efficiency.


(Source: Empa)

Ayodhya N. Tiwari, head of Empa's Thin Film and Photovoltaics laboratory, is the scientific coordinator of Sharc25 covering different research and development topics of solar cell and module technology. Empa's focus is on developing innovative processes and solar cell designs for further efficiency enhancements.

Besides Empa and ZSW, project partners are the universities of Luxembourg, Rouen, Parma and Aalto, the IMEC (Interuniversitair Micro-Elektronica Centrum VZW in Belgium), the HZB (Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie), the International Iberian Nano-technology Laboratory (INL), Flisom AG and Manz CIGS Technology GmbH. The idea behind this EU project is to pool the organisations' multi-disciplinary skills in a bid to develop cheaper and more efficient cells.

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