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Proceedings Paper

Leveraging scale effects to create next-generation photovoltaic systems through micro- and nanotechnologies
Author(s): Gregory N. Nielson; Murat Okandan; Jose Luis Cruz-Campa; Anthony L. Lentine; William C. Sweatt; Vipin P. Gupta; Jeffrey S. Nelson
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Paper Abstract

Current solar power systems using crystalline silicon wafers, thin film semiconductors (i.e., CdTe, amorphous Si, CIGS, etc.), or concentrated photovoltaics have yet to achieve the cost reductions needed to make solar power competitive with current grid power costs. To overcome this cost challenge, we are pursuing a new approach to solar power that utilizes micro-scale solar cells (5 to 20 μm thick and 100 to 500 μm across). These micro-scale PV cells allow beneficial scaling effects that are manifested at the cell, module, and system level. Examples of these benefits include improved cell performance, better thermal management, new module form-factors, improved robustness to partial shading, and many others. To create micro-scale PV cells we are using technologies from the MEMS, IC, LED, and other micro and nanosystem industries. To date, we have demonstrated fully back-contacted crystalline silicon (c-Si), GaAs, and InGaP microscale solar cells. We have demonstrated these cells individually (c-Si, GaAs), in dual junction arrangements (GaAs, InGaP), and in a triple junction cell (c-Si, GaAs, InGaP) using 3D integration techniques. We anticipate two key systems resulting from this work. The first system is a high-efficiency, flexible PV module that can achieve greater than 20% conversion efficiency and bend radii of a few millimeters (both parameters greatly exceeding what currently available flexible PV can achieve). The second system is a utility/commercial scale PV system that cost models indicate should be able to achieve energy costs of less than $0.10/kWh in most locations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 7 May 2012
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 8373, Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications IV, 837317 (7 May 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.919464
Show Author Affiliations
Gregory N. Nielson, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Murat Okandan, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Jose Luis Cruz-Campa, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Anthony L. Lentine, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
William C. Sweatt, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Vipin P. Gupta, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Jeffrey S. Nelson, Sandia National Labs. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8373:
Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications IV
Thomas George; M. Saif Islam; Achyut Dutta, Editor(s)

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