Benchtop Growth of High Quality Thin Film Photovoltaics
Photovoltaic (PV) solar electric systems are an increasingly affordable alternative to traditional sources of electricity, such as coal-burning power plants. One of the biggest obstacles to the widespread deployment of PV systems is their relatively high cost. New PV technologies must improve the efficiency of solar energy conversion while driving down manufacturing costs in order to make PV systems cost competitive with traditional power sources. Doing so will help position the U.S. as a leader in the global renewable energy industry.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
The University of Michigan is investigating a new, hybrid thin-film PV production technology that combines two different semiconductor production techniques: electrodeposition (the deposition of a substance on an electrode by the action of electricity) and epitaxial crystal growth (the growth of crystals of one substance on the crystal face of another substance). If successful, the University of Michigan’s new hybrid approach would produce highly efficient (above 20%) gallium arsenide thin film solar cells using only simple process equipment, non-flammable precursor ingredients, and relatively low production temperatures (below 350 °C). This would radically decrease the production cost per watt of solar capacity, making it substantially less expensive and more competitive with other energy sources.