Sandia National Laboratories scientists have developed tiny glitter-sized photovoltaic cells fabricated of crystalline silicon. According to the lab, these cells hold the potential for a variety of new applications. They are expected eventually to be less expensive and have greater efficiencies than current photovoltaic collectors, which are typically composed of six-inch-square solar wafers.
The microsolar cells are fabricated using microelectronic and microelectromechanical systems techniques common to today's electronic foundries. The cells are 14 to 20 micrometers thick (10 times thinner than conventional solar cells), yet perform at about the same efficiency (14.9%).
‘Photovoltaic modules made from these microsized cells for the rooftops of homes and warehouses could have intelligent controls, inverters and even storage built in at the chip level,’ says Vipin Gupta, field engineer at Sandia. ‘Such an integrated module could greatly simplify the cumbersome design, bid, permit and grid integration process that our solar technical assistance teams see in the field all the time.’
SOURCE: Sandia National Laboratories