Saturday, February 27, 2010

Solar Cells Made From Common Substances

From CNET's Green Tech: Researchers at IBM have written a paper describing a solar cell made from common materials like copper, zinc, tin and sulfur or selenium (CZTS).

Conventional silicon and thin-film solar cells are made from scarce or expensive materials that limit production capacity and improvements, according to IBM. Solar cells made from abundant elements have no such cost or production constraints.

The cells IBM describes convert only 9.6% of the solar energy falling on them into electrical energy. While this is 40% higher than what CZTS solar cells have achieved to date, it's far lower than the efficiencies of polysilicon and even thin-film solar cells.

However, IBM's cells use only small amounts of material. If the cells' efficiency were pushed up to 12%, they would be commercially viable alternatives to current products.

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