Tripping the light fantastic

A new optical furnace developed by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden Colorado promises to do away the heating process which requires silicon wafers to undergo temperatures well above 1,000 degrees. The optical furnace heats up the cells by projecting light onto them which is a more efficient process and it can actually lead to better and more efficient cells resulting from the production process. This efficiency gain is to approximately 20% solar efficiency whereas typical cells achieve 16%. The boost is welcome in the fight to reduce the cost per Watt of power generated. The light source helps reduce impurities in the wafer leading to much greater efficiencies and the light source improves the control of dopants into the silicon – which help the PhotoVoltaic process (turning light into electrical charge).


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