Using arrays of long, thin silicon wires embedded in a polymer substrate, a team of scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has created a new type of flexible solar cell that enhances the absorption of sunlight and efficiently converts its photons into electrons. The solar cell does all this using only a fraction of the expensive semiconductor materials required by conventional solar cells.
"These solar cells have, for the first time, surpassed the conventional light-trapping limit for absorbing materials," says SPIE Member Harry Atwater, Howard Hughes Professor, professor of applied physics and materials science, and director of Caltech's Resnick Institute, which focuses on sustainability research. Atwater and his colleagues reported on their work in the journal Nature Materials.
Atwater has served as conference program committee member and published more than 60 papers with SPIE, with 9 scheduled for presentation at SPIE Optics and Photonics in August.
Read the press release from Caltech.
View a 2008 video interview with Atwater from the SPIE Newsroom archives.