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Nanopillars Promise Cost-Effective Photovoltaics

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National Nanomanufacturing Network: Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California Berkeley report advances in the fabrication of cost-effective photovoltaics based on bottom-up nanostructured materials.

Using a controlled vapor-liquid-solid (VLS) process, Ali Javey and colleagues are able to grow three-dimensional, single-crystal nanopillar arrays of cadmium sulfide on anodized aluminum foil. Functionalized with cadmium telluride and encased in clear plastic, the arrays are the basis for flexible solar cells with a reported ~6% efficiency.

While the performance can be improved with alternative electrode materials, such as indium, and improved transparency of the top copper-gold contacts, this model offers a versatile path to the manufacture of low-cost solar modules.

LBL Press Release Technology Update

Nature Materials doi:10.1038/nmat2493

Diagram of nanopillar array. Image credit: Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory.