Thin Film Solar Panel Leads The Way

Solar energy is the fastest growing alternative energy in the market today. 

According to a study conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the cost of a solar panel has dropped by more than 30 percent over the past decade.

And recent developments in thin film solar technology has only added fuel to the ever growing evolution away from nonrenewable energy.

Recently, Stanford researchers developed the world's first peel-and-stick, thin-film solar cells.

Thin Film Building integrated photovoltaics - roofing

Xiaolin Zheng of Standford's engineering department said that the new thin film stick and peel technology "gives thin-film solar cells flexibility and attachment potential we've never seen before and also reduces their general cost and weight."

Zheng went on to say "Now you can put solar panels on helmets, cell phones, convex windows, portable electronic devices, curved roofs, clothing--virtually anything."

How a Thin-film Silicon Solar Panel is Made

A solar panel made of thin-film photovoltaic cells (TFPV) is used in many different applications. 

Thin-film solar cells are made by layering a thin film of photovoltaic material on a substrate. 

The thickness can range from a few nanometers to tens of micrometers.  

These are the most common PV materials used in the production of thin solar cells:

  •          Amorphous Silicon
  •          Cadmium Telluride

  •          Copper Indium Gallium Selenide
  •          Dye-sensitized solar cell
  •          Organic Solar Cells

  •          Solar cells made from thin-film silicon use amorphous, protocrystalline, Nano crystalline, or black silicon
  •          Silicon is deposited by using a chemical vapor deposition using plasma-enhanced silane gas and hydrogen gas
  •          Other methods include sputtering and hot wire techniques
  •          The silicon is deposited on glass, plastic, or metal which has been coated with a layer of transparent conducting oxide

Efficiency Facts

  •          These silicon solar cells are not as efficient as crystalline and wafer silicon
  •          However, they are cheaper to produce than crystalline and wafer silicon
  •          The quantum efficiency of thin-film solar cells is due to the reduced number of charge carriers per incident of photon
  •          Amorphous silicon absorbs the visible part of the  solar spectrum with more intensity than it does the infrared portion
  •          Solutions have been found to counter the limitations of thin-film silicon
  •          Light trapping methods, where the incoming light is coupled into the silicon and the light traverses the film several times, enhance the absorption of sunlight in the films


Building integrated photovoltaics

Thin film solar cells are commercially available for installation onto the roofs of buildings, either applied onto the finished roof, or integrated into the roof covering.

The advantage over traditional PV panels is that they are very low in weight, are not subject to wind lifting, and can be walked on (with care).

The disadvantages are increased cost and reduced efficiency.

A silicon thin film technology is being developed for building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) in the form of semitransparent solar cells which can be applied as window glazing.

These cells function as window tinting while generating electricity.

Related Articles:

Solar Wind Energy: A Combination for the Future

Free Solar Modules Via the Feed-in Tariff?

The Alternative Future: Renewable Energy for a sustainable Tomorrow

Save Money with a Solar Hot Water Heater

Solar Electric Modules and the Future

Going Off Grid Increases Your Independence and Confidence

Photovoltaic Cells and their Many Different Applications

Learn What a Photovoltaic System Is and Save Yourself Some Money

Photovoltaic System News

Photovoltaics Help the Planet and Your Wallet

Solar Cells: Convert the Sun's Rays into Energy!

Solar Hot Water Heater: Tax Incentives For Living a Sustainable Life

The Top Producers of Solar Modules

Solar Water Heating Pros and Cons

Sun Rays=Solar Energy

Solar Energy Systems and How they Can Help You

Sustainable Living With Solar Energy

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Enter Your E-mail Address
Enter Your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you The Green E-Zine.