Just when we were getting used to silicon solar cells, efficient – true, but so expensive, here comes a new discovery of solar cells that could turn the industry upside down. We’re talking about CZTS solar cells, which stands for Copper Zinc Tin Sulfide. What makes these so great: they “make this inexpensive.”
This was chemical engineering professor Rakesh Agrawal at the Purdue University, Indiana speaking, whose team received a $750,000 grant from the Department of Energy to come up with this cell and its prototype to be mass-produced.
So that’s exactly what they did: they synthesized the CZTS into light-absorbing nanocrystals. It all looks like a dark ink, which is painted onto glass squares, heated and studded with nanoelectronics.
The resulting mix-up is not only less pricey, as I was saying, but also 15% more efficient. The team is guided by the principle that only those solar cells producing terawatts at 50 cents per peak watt of electricity will be worth considering.
Even with this reality in mind, the team is still confident their invention will bust the market. If they do, they will have hit the jackpot, since it’s expected that 14% of U.S. electricity needs by 2030 and 27% by 2050 will be provided by solar.
The reason they went for solar is because, in their opinion, this sector holds the highest potential among renewable sources.