Solar engineers at Australia-based University of New South Wales (UNSW) say they have created a method to improve the efficiency of low-grade silicon for use in solar panels.
According to UNSW, the engineers have developed a way to use hydrogen atoms in order to ‘correct deficiencies’ in silicon, which the researchers say can be the most expensive ingredient in solar cell production.
‘This process will allow lower-quality silicon to outperform solar cells made from better-quality materials,’ says Stuart Wenham, a professor at UNSW's School of Photovoltaics and Renewable Energy Engineering.
UNSW is working with eight industry partners and says its new method will produce efficiencies between 21% and 23% – an increase from the current 19% efficiency of standard silicon cells. The project is slated for completion in 2016.