Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada believe they have created one of the cheapest nanoparticles yet developed for solar photovoltaics, and it could help to further reduce the price of solar power technology.
IEEE Spectrum online reports that the nanoparticle is cheap as it is made from two plentiful elements, phosphorous and zinc.
In addition to their low price compared to elements like cadmium, phosphorus and zinc don't bog manufacturers down with the restrictions that come with lead-based nanoparticles.
The research was published in the journal ACS Nano (“Solution-Processed Zinc Phosphide (α-Zn3P2) Colloidal Semiconducting Nanocrystals for Thin Film Photovoltaic Applications”), and the versatility of the material involved is another strong point as it lends itself to a variety of manufacturing processes, including roll-to-roll printing or spray coating.
“Nanoparticle-based ‘inks’ could be used to literally paint or print solar cells or precise compositions,” said Jillian Buriak, a professor at the University of Alberta, in a press release.
The University is experimenting with spray coating to determine the energy conversion efficiency levels that will determine whether the product is truly commercially viable.
The team has applied for a provisional patent and has already secured some funding to scale up the process for manufacturing.
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