University of Utah engineers devised a new way to slice thin wafers of the chemical element germanium for use in the most efficient type of solar power cells. They say the new method should lower the cost of such cells by reducing the waste and breakage of the brittle semiconductor.
The expensive solar cells now are used mainly on spacecraft, but with the improved wafer-slicing method, “the idea is to make germanium-based, high-efficiency solar cells for uses where cost now is a factor,” particularly for solar power on Earth, says Eberhard “Ebbe” Bamberg, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “You want to do it on your roof.”
Dinesh Rakwal, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, adds: “We’re coming up with a more efficient way of making germanium wafers for solar cells – to reduce the cost and weight of these solar cells and make them defect-free.”
Source: The University of Utah