Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new treatment for silicon photovoltaic solar cells that creates bumps and peaks on the surface that increase cell efficiency in two ways.
The surface structures prevent water and dust from coming into contact with the cells. When water hits the surface, it beads together and runs off, collecting any dirt or dust along with it. This self-cleaning mechanism will help keep the solar cells working at maximum light absorption at all times.
Additionally, the three-dimensional structures manage to capture more light and reflect less.
“The more sunlight that goes into the photovoltaic cells and the less that reflects back, the higher the efficiency can be,” said C.P. Wong, Regents’ professor and author of the study. “Our simulations show that we can potentially increase the final efficiency of the cells by as much as two percent with this surface structure.”
To achieve the textured surface, Wong’s team etched the silicon with potassium hydroxide, which removes some silicon and creates pyramid structures. They then use an “e-beam process” to apply microscopic gold particles to the pyramids that act as a catalyst when hydrogen fluoride and hydrogen peroxide are added to the mix. This creates a second layer of structures and the desired “superhydrophobic” characteristics.
Author: A. Felsinger