How to make the world’s lightest solar cell
When it comes to building a lightest, least-expensive solar cell, the solar industry has a lot of work to do.
For one thing, most of the material in a solar cell has to be produced in a specific place, and even then the cost is prohibitive.
That’s why a number of companies have developed solar cells that use “bulk” materials, such as plastic, fiberglass, and ceramic.
“A lot of our solar cell materials are bulk materials,” says Scott O’Neal, CEO of the International Association of Solar Photovoltaic Cells (ISAPC), which is based in Los Angeles.
“If you have the materials that we have, then it’s possible to use a lot more of them.”
That’s because solar cells are made of three layers: an insulator, a film, and a layer of a solid that absorbs the sun’s energy.
In order to use these materials, you need to know how to make a lot and how to use them efficiently.
A good bulk material, such to make solar cells, can be made by cutting a sheet of material with a blade.
That way, it’s able to be cut easily, without damaging the sheet.
“When we cut the sheet, we can make it in a very short amount of time,” O’Neill says.
But in order to make these materials in bulk, a solar panel has to run on the material it’s attached to.
And if that panel has a metal or ceramic shell, then the material needs to be made from a material that can withstand heat.
A plastic, for example, can withstand temperatures up to 300 degrees Celsius, which is a lot hotter than the temperatures that solar cells typically operate at.
“It’s very important that a lot can be produced from bulk materials, so that the solar cells can be used in a lot larger scale,” O`Neill says, adding that a plastic that’s made from bulk material would have a better chance of being able to withstand extreme heat.
For example, if you cut a sheet, it needs to go through a process called ablation, where it is heated to a temperature of between about 400 degrees Celsius and 800 degrees Celsius.
This process removes some of the plastic from the cell, which can lead to some of its components degrading.
That, in turn, reduces the cell’s capacity to absorb sunlight, which could lead to lower performance in future.
“We have to make sure we have enough bulk materials in order for the cells to work,” O-Neal says.
Solar panels also need to be able to absorb heat.
“The more you have, the better the performance, and if you don’t have enough, then you get problems like the melting,” O\’Neal says, referring to the process that can occur when a solar device heats up.
“So, you have to have enough to give it the thermal stability that it needs.”
That means that the amount of materials needed to make one of the solar cell’s layers can vary, depending on the thickness of the device.
“You can’t use a sheet that’s a little bit thicker and you can’t get it to melt because you can use a much thinner sheet, but you have a much thicker material that you can melt and still get the same thermal stability,” O´Neal says