Manufacturing technique pushes black silicon closer to commercialisation

Scientists in the US have simplified the manufacture of solar cells using the top electrode as the catalyst that turns plain silicon into valuable black silicon.

According to the team, which has been working to fine tune the creation of black silicon, an advance in the manufacturing technique should push it closer to commercialisation.

The work led by postdoctoral researcher Yen-Tien Lu had two major attractions, according to chemist Andrew Barron of Rice University, Texas.

“One, removing steps from the process is always good,” he said in a statement. “Two, this is the first time in which metallisation is a catalyst for a reaction that occurs several millimeters away.”

The metal layer used as a top electrode is usually applied last in solar cell manufacturing, Barron said. The new method, known as contact-assisted chemical etching, applies the set of thin gold lines that serve as the electrode earlier in the process. This also eliminates the need to remove used catalyst particles.

The researchers discovered that etching in a chemical bath takes place a set distance from the lines. That distance appears to be connected to the silicon’s semiconducting properties, Barron said.

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May 14, 2015



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