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Semi-transparent, Flexible Solar Cells Give 0.7% More Efficiency


Solar cells that offer a range of transparency while possessing high mechanical flexibility are considered as the next-generation smart solar cells, gathering much attention at present. Their special features find their application in cellular phones, human skin, personal computers, and windows. However, the technology is needing a lot of improvements in terms of its scalability or potential for mass production, flexibility, transparency, and power conversion efficiency.

A research team at Tohoku University has developed a novel method of scalable fabrication of semitransparent and flexible 2D solar cells with an improved power conversion efficiency of up to 0.7%, which is the highest so far for transparent few-layered 2D solar cells.

The novel method uses an atomically thin 2D material called TMD’s or transition metal dichalcogenides. Aside from high power conversion efficiency improvement, the novel method also demonstrated high potential for scalable production. This was concluded by the team after observing clear power generation in a device that is fabricated on a large and flexible substrate.

The new solar cell technology owes its improved power conversion efficiency and scalability to the material’s configuration, Schottky-type configuration. Because of the excellent solar cell performance and the excellent potential of scalability demonstrated, the research team’s fabrication method can prove a big contribution to accelerating the industrial application of few-layered TMD’s as semitransparent and flexible 2D solar cells.

Associate Professor T. Kato, who leads the research team, explains, “Since our device structure, Schottky-type solar cell, is very simple, the TMD’s-based Schottky-type solar cell possesses good properties for scalability, which is one of the most important elements for use in practical applications. The transparent and semi-transparent solar cell can be used in a variety of ways. This new type of solar cell is likely to have an impact on the technologies we use in daily life in the near future.”

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