US Sunshot Initiative Supports GaAs Film On Low Cost Substrates Project
$1.5m grant to produce high efficiency, inexpensive thin film photovoltaics
The US Department of Energy SunShot Initiative has awarded researchers from the University of Houston and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology with a $1,499,994 grant to produce high efficiency, inexpensive thin film photovoltaics using germanium and GaAs on metal foils.
The grant is part of the department's SunShot Initiative, created in 2011 to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade. Since then, it has funded more than 350 projects, with a goal of bringing the cost of solar electricity to about $0.06 per kilowatt-hour.
Venkat Selvamanickam, Anderson Chair professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Applied Research Hub at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH and colleagues, have developed a process using a metal foil tape with a germanium thin film (although other substance could be used as a base) and moving it at high speed with roll-to-roll technology, coating it in a vacuum chamber with vapours of gallium and arsenic. The results were published in the journal Applied Physics Letters last month.
Single-junction solar cells on germanium wafers produced with GaAs can operate at an efficiency of 28.5 percent, with a cost of several dollars per watt. Selvamanickam's goal is to produce a solar cell that operates at 24 percent efficiency at a cost of 20 cents per watt.
The work is being done in Selvamanickam's Energy Devices Fabrication Laboratory at the UH Energy Research Park. The Energy Research Park was established by the University in 2010 to conduct translational research to rapidly develop and transfer new technologies to industry.
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