The Magazine for Asian Investors
Silver-bismuth solar cells could provide a lower-cost and more environmentally friendly alternative to current silicon-based solar cells, the Silver Institute reports.
The report says researchers in Europe are currently working on solutions and have already conducted initial tests.
The solar cells are supposed to consist only of the two components silver and bismuth and be cheaper to produce than silicon-based solar cells. Bismuth is abundant in nature, which further benefits the whole thing. Silicon-based solar cells must be manufactured at high temperatures, which requires thermal coal, making the manufacture of conventional solar cells often criticized by environmentalists. In addition, most solar cells are manufactured in China.
Researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences in Castelldefels, Spain, have developed a prototype that converts 9% of the sun’s energy into electricity. Conventional solar cells can convert about 30% into electricity. But the 10,000th of a millimeter thick cell is said to have even more potential.
Other researchers on the team, based at University College
in London, England used computer models to calculate that a 50/50 composition of silver-bismuth atoms on a silicon-based solar cell increases energy conversion.
Ph.D. researcher Seán Kavanagh commented, “These particular solar cells have made huge leaps in
efficiency in less than a decade, from 1-2% to 9%. This gives us confidence that further improvements are possible, and the goal is to further improve efficiency so it is comparable with silicon-based solar cells. The results show how our research, looking at the underlying chemistry and physics of materials, can help in the design of high-performance, low-cost devices and support a green economy.”