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E.U.-funded project to develop high-efficiency thin-film cells

By Katrice R. Jalbuena

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Germany's Forschungszentrum J"ulich in Rhineland is leading a 9.3-million euro ($12.4 million) European Union-funded project to develop a thin-film silicon solar module.

The project seeks to develop a tandem layer solar cell using thin layers of silicon, about one micrometer thick, that can achieve an efficiency of 12 percent.

Current thin-film solar modules have an efficiency level of around 10 percent. Though not as efficient as conventional silicon solar cells, thin-film is more economical to produce as they use less material.

A tandem design, with two layers one on top of each other will also allow the cells to absorb more fractions of sunlight.

The researchers intend to experiment with various nanomaterials and optical functional layers to see how they interact with the thin-film silicon to improve the cells' ability to absorb and convert sunlight.

The project will run for three years, ending on February 2015 at which point the researchers expect to have a marketable prototype of a solar module using their highly-efficient thin-film solar cells.

Project partners also include Ècole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Fyzik'alní ústav AV CR V.V.I, Univerza v Ljubljani, CVD Technologies Limited, Universiteit Utrecht, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Uniresearch BV, Stichting Energieonderzoek Centrum Nederland, Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l'energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile, Technische Universit"at Dresden, Oerlikon Solar AG, Technische Universiteit Delft, Malibu GmbH & Co. KG, FAP Forschungs- und Applikationslabor Plasmatechnik GmbH Dresden, Euroglas GmbH, SolarExcel B.V and Singulus Stangl Solar GmbH.

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