NANOWIRES: Such nanoscale structures
might offer a new path to efficiently turn
sunlight into electricity.
Image: Courtesy of Wallentin et al.

Novel Solar Photovoltaic Cells Achieve Record Efficiency Using Nanoscale Structures

The devices could lead to better, cheaper solar power

By David Biello

Here’s how to make a powerful solar cell from indium and phosphorus: First, arrange microscopic flecks of gold on a silicon background. Using the gold as seeds, grow precisely arranged wires roughly 1.5 micrometers tall out of chemically tweaked compounds of indium and phosphorus. Keep the nanowires in line by etching them clean with hydrochloric acid and confining their diameter to 180 nanometers. (A nanometer is one billionth of a meter.) Exposed to the sun, a solar cell employing such nanowires can turn nearly 14 percent of the incoming light into electricity—a new record that opens up more possibilities for cheap and effective solar power.

Read more: Novel Solar Photovoltaic Cells Achieve Record Efficiency Using Nanoscale Structures: Scientific American.

Home           Top of page