Researchers or the Oregon State University have made an important breakthrough in the use of continuous flow microreactors to produce thin film absorbers for solar cells – an innovative technology that could significantly reduce the cost of solar energy devices and reduce material waste.
The interesting thing is that the thin-film solar cells produced by applications such as this could ultimately be used in the creation of solar energy roofing systems. Instead of adding solar panels on top of the roof of a residential or industrial building, the solar panel itself would become the roof, eliminating such traditional approaches as plywood and shingles.
“We’ve now demonstrated that this system can produce thin-film solar absorbers on a glass substrate in a short time, and that’s quite significant,” said Chih-hung Chang, an associate professor in the OSU School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering. “That’s the first time this has been done with this new technique.”
“If we could produce roofing products that cost-effectively produced solar energy at the same time, that would be a game changer,” Chang said. “Thin film solar cells are one way that might work. All solar applications are ultimately a function of efficiency, cost and environmental safety, and these products might offer all of that.”
This is one of the first demonstrations that this type of technology, which is safer, faster and more economical than previous chemical solution approaches, could be used to continuously and rapidly deposit thin film absorbers for solar cells from such compounds as copper indium diselenide.