Natcore is a solar company based in Red Bank, New Jersey, and cooperates with Rice University and National Renewable Energy Laboratory to bring new and promising thin-film solar cell technologies to the market. The collaboration has now developed what appears to be the “blackest” solar cell to date.
There are constantly new technologies emerging that increases a solar cell`s ability to absorb sunlight. You`ve probably heard of a handful of these technologies already – anti-reflective coating, algae shell surfaces, three-dimensional solar cells just to name a few.
A white-colored surface reflects the majority of the sunlight it is exposed to. Likewise, a black-colored surface is great for absorption. Ever wondered why you get incredible hot in black clothes during the summer?
Scientists at Natcore have now pioneered a method called “liquid phase deposition (LPD)” in order to create an “absolute black” solar cell based on black silicon wafer.
Hao-Chih Yuan, NREL research scientist, noted, “We have a good synergy with Natcore on black silicon technology. A silicon surface, without proper coating, is detrimental to the energy conversion efficiency of the solar cell. It is not unusual to grow silicon dioxide coatings on black silicon surfaces for this purpose, but the growth is typically at very high temperatures. Natcore’s coating uses chemistry. They are the ones who can passivate a black silicon surface cheaply.”
There are two main reasons why the new black solar cells are exciting. Natcore claims their solar cell only has one tenth of the reflection of convetional solar cells, which means the efficiency rate would increase by 3% – a significant amount in the solar industry.
The black solar cell is also more receptive to light from greater angles. Black solar panels would therefore be even more efficient during morning and afternoon hours.
“Its higher energy output, combined with a lower cost using Natcore’s patented process, could quickly make black silicon the global solar technology of choice,” states Natcore’s CEO, Chuck Provini.
Natcore`s slogan says, “We have the technology that will change the world”. Only time will tell whether this is true or not. The company is clearly sitting on promising technology, but will the absolute black silicon solar cells ever be scalable and profitable?