There’s just one word for the ‘teens: plastics photovoltaics. A new experiment may have solved a problem in nanostructured silicon solar cells: a type of photovoltaic cell that uses pores to increase the effective surface area for collection of light.

By separating the contribution by surface and interior recombination effects, the NREL study found that Auger recombination—recombination by these interior charges—was actually more damaging to photocell efficiency. In other words, the very pores that offered advantages also led to problems, which was why nanostructured photovoltaics haven’t lived up to their promises thus far.

The researchers found that etching the silicon material with tetramethylammonium hydroxide (TMAH) greatly increased the efficiency of the photocell. The result was shallower, slightly wider, and more irregularly shaped pores. [Read more….]

Pore, pore, pitiful solar cells