Magic Alloy Set to Make Solar Power Cheaper


A new wave of solar cells called concentrator photovoltaics, a new semiconductor alloy, has been developed by the University of Michigan researchers. The alloy has the capacity of capturing the near-infrared light that is positioned on the edge of the visible light spectrum.

This groundbreaking alloy is believed to be the world’s most cost-effective material featured to be 25% less expensive than previous formulations and well-suited with gallium arsenide semiconductors used in concentrator photovoltaics.

Concentrator photovoltaics can stream sunlight onto the high-efficiency solar cells made of germanium semiconductors. The Flat-panel silicon panels have reportedly maxed out of efficiency, and Concentrator photovoltaics could be the next generation power solution, according to Rachael Goldman, U-M Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Physics.

Goldman and her team devised a novel approach observing numerous variables in the process. Her team blended the on-the-ground measurement methods inclusive of X-ray diffraction and the ion beam analysis.

The magic alloy that was discovered was a creation featured with arsenic, gallium arsenide, nitrogen, bismuth, and a material used in solar panels, silicon, which formed a layer of chemicals a few microns thick that could spray onto photovoltaic cells to harness infrared energy.

Another groundbreaking innovation involved the simplification of making semiconductors or the chemical compounds that have the ability to convert light into electricity in the solar panels. Silicon is used as a semiconductor in solar panels, and solar panel makers add ‘design impurities’ or ‘dopants’ to figure out how a semiconductor functions. The dopants used for gallium arsenide semiconductors involve silicon and beryllium. Goldman’s team found out how to purge the beryllium by reducing the levels of arsenic in the mix of dopants in gallium arsenide.

The new magic alloy is detailed in the Journal Applied Physics Letters.

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