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Self assembly solar cells on the horizon

January 13 2010

Self assembly solar cells on the horizon
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have come up with a simple and cheap process for the manufacture of solar cells which may boost their competitiveness and increase adoption.

Working on the fact that oil and water based liquids will not mix the team demonstrated a technique which allowed self assembly of solar cell elements placed in this oil/water mix.

Each element was coated with water seeking molecules on one side and water repellent molecules on the other, serving to align the elements neatly as a sheet each pointing together at the boundary of the liquids.

A blank solar cell with pre-cut places for the elements is then dunked through this boundary, upon retraction this initiates a conveyor belt process as the sheet of elements ride up alongside and pop into place thanks to the attraction of gold contacts to solder.

In trials the team were able to fabricate a working cell comprising 64,000 elements in just three minutes.

This method also lends itself to the use of single crystal silicon, said to be far superior to other types of silicon in making solar cells.

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