|SiOnyx Solar Panel with Black Silicon Cells|
This semiconductor process blast silicon with a series of laser pulses in a controlled gas environment. The effect is to re-form the crystalline structure of silicon so that the surface captures more light.
CEO of SiOnyx, Stephen Saylor said, "It makes it almost a totally antireflective surface. Almost no light bounces off the stuff, so it's a very efficient way to capture more light in a layer of silicon."
Other companies have techniques to improve the efficiency of solar cells and bring down the manufacturing costs. Silicon Valley-based Innovalight, for example, has signed deals with solar manufacturers to use its "silicon ink" technology which treats silicon material so that it produces more electricity.
Technology developed at IBM's research labs is inching closer to producing affordable commercial solar panels. Japanese manufacturer Solar Frontier said it has signed a deal to develop thin-film solar cells originally designed by IBM. With changes to the manufacturing process that incorporate its technology, solar-cell efficiency can improve by a few percentages.IBM researchers last year showed they were able to improve the efficiency of solar cells made from a combination of copper, zinc, tin, sulfur and selenium,(CZTS) hitting an efficiency mark of 9.6 percent in the lab. Although they are generally less efficient than silicon, thin-film solar cells promise to be cheaper because less material is needed.
"We are interested in exploring CZTS for its evolutionary compatibility with our CIS thin film technology. The goals of the project correspond with Solar Frontier's mission to combine both economical and ecological solar energy solutions," Satoru Kuriyagawa, Solar Frontier's chief technology officer, said in a statement.