The Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) announced on Oct. 6 that its research team successfully developed a new method to cut manufacturing costs in half while maintaining the optical conversion efficiency of crystalline silicon solar cells.
A technique developed by a research team led by Dr. Song Hee-eun at the KIER can make solar cells more economically feasible. It involves using half the amount of silicon, which comprises the largest proportion of the cost to manufacture crystalline silicon solar cells. The procedure is also more simple, cutting costs further.
Solar cells can fully absorb sunlight with a 50 μm silicon substrate. However, when solar cells are made using thin substrates, those substrates can easily break. Hence, 180 μm silicon substrates are used at the moment.
The research team solved the existing problem by developing a cheaper technique to mass-produce crystalline silicon solar cells with 100μm silicon substrates that are highly durable.
In the past, heteroepitaxial solar cells, which are very efficient in converting sunlight into electricity, had problems related to equipment and rising costs, since the multi-layered silicon film on the front and the transparent conductive film on the back of the silicon wafers were created gradually and separately. Now, it is possible to reduce the amount of equipment and the manufacturing process by half via creating solar cells with the simultaneous creation of the silicon film and the transparent conductive film on the front and back of the silicon wafer.
Dr. Song remarked, “We are trying to develop a method that can reduce the width of a silicon substrate up to 50 μm and increase the optical conversion efficiency from 18.5 percent to more than 20 percent.” The researcher concluded by saying, “We will make efforts to contribute to increasing our share of the global market through commercialization in partnership with a local company within one to two years.”