Solar Cells Can be Built Using Any Semiconductor

Solar cells could be seeing much more widespread use and application as a result of research results announced by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley. The technology is called screening-engineered field-effect photovoltaics, short SFPV. The approach utilizes the electric field effect as well as a "carefully designed partially screening top electrode" that "lets the gate electric field sufficiently penetrate the electrode and more uniformly modulate the semiconductor carrier concentration and type to induce a p-n junction."

"Our technology requires only electrode and gate deposition, without the need for high-temperature chemical doping, ion implantation, or other expensive or damaging processes," said William Regan, lead author of the study. "The key to our success is the minimal screening of the gate field which is achieved through geometric structuring of the top electrode. This makes it possible for electrical contact to and carrier modulation of the semiconductor to be performed simultaneously."

The Berkeley scientists said that they shaped the electrode contact into narrow fingers using copper oxide in one configuration and, in another configuration, they created a single-layer graphene surface. "With sufficiently narrow fingers, the gate field creates a low electrical resistance inversion layer between the fingers and a potential barrier beneath them," the researchers said. "A uniformly thin top contact allows gate fields to penetrate and deplete/invert the underlying semiconductor. This results in both configurations are high quality p-n junctions."

"Our demonstrations show that a stable, electrically contacted p-n junction can be achieved with nearly any semiconductor and any electrode material through the application of a gate field provided that the electrode is appropriately geometrically structured," Feng Wang, co-author of the study, noted.

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  • Soulmachiklamo
    Good! I hope this leads to more efficient solar panels. At least when their price is compared.
  • namecnassianer
    Energy from the sky!

    And it's free (almost).

    This is where governments should be spending money, instead of on new landmines that render people asunder.
  • nikorr
    Whats the efficiency?
  • belardo
    Oil companies will pay to keep this stuff off the market.
  • hardcore_gamer
    We have to stop our dependency on foreign oil asap. Right now, we are indirectly funding terrorist organizations.
  • CaedenV
    NikorrWhats the efficiency?my thoughts exactly, It would be great to have cheap panels, but unless we can make them near 20% efficient then it would take too much surface area to power the average home. But if it is efficient, and they can get it down the pipe in 5 years when I need to redo my roof then I will be a happy camper :D
    belardoOil companies will pay to keep this stuff off the market.They could try (and have tried for several years), but ultimately there is too much demand for the solar movement on all fronts. Solar (once we get it down to a cheap enough initial investment, and good battery tech) will take over the consumer/home market, and oil will be relegated to 'heavy' uses such as air travel, bulk transit (rails and boats), and military.
    hardcore_gamerWe have to stop our dependency on foreign oil asap. Right now, we are indirectly funding terrorist organizations.When things start moving solar it is going to make some huge changes in the world's power structure. Countries like the US will move to solar and natural gas/coal, while many European countries will move to solar and nuclear. 3rd world countries will then be stuck on oil, and desperate oil producing countries will make their lives a living hell.
    Here in the first world we will see huge political shifts moving from the large influence of oil companies and centralized power grids to solar companies and an ever increasingly decentralized power grid which will potentially further the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. If you can afford your own power cells then you get 'free' power (or at least very cheap power) to do with as you please. If you cannot afford your own power cells, or live in a city where you do not have access to your own power source, then you will be forced to rely on power companies which will be coping with huge losses in business, while still being required to maintain a massive power grid. Hopefully we will find answers to these problems in time, but I think a lot of people overlook many of the potential problems that can occur as we move over to this new tech. As mentioned above, I'll be moving to solar regardless when it comes time to replace the roof.
  • CaedenV
    hardcore_gamerWe have to stop our dependency on foreign oil asap. Right now, we are indirectly funding terrorist organizations.What happens when a bully is accustomed to taking your lunch money, and you stop giving it to them? Not saying that we should be giving them money; But when we stop (and we will) it will likely cause a lot of problems once they become desperate.
  • lamorpa
    belardoOil companies will pay to keep this stuff off the market....just like the saltwater powered car?

    (conspiracy theorists are always entertaining)
  • Adhmuz
    The only issue I have with solar energy is this, what happens when it rains? or its overcast? Yes it's clean, its free, but it takes up a lot of land and at the end of the day the sun goes down, then what. Most free energy is so unreliable that its not feasible to have it power our infrastructure, Yet. It does contribute and help just not enough, and not on a global scale. Hydroelectric and geothermal, this is an area that needs better development, tidal power especially should be looked at more closely. There's massive potential for clean renewable energy, I just don't see it being developed until we run out of fossil fuels and by then the damage will be done and our atmosphere will be so polluted the oil companies will just start selling us the air we breath.
  • blood_dew
    Solar gets WAY too much attention. I'm looking forward to next generation nuclear technologies. The grid CANNOT be powered by energy that is only on during the day, when it isn't cloudy. Before you say the Gov't should be spending money on solar look in to the potential alternatives!

    Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors would be:
    Cheaper, always on, far safer than today's Light Water Reactors, run on an energy source that we would literally NEVER run out of, and be able to reprocess transuranic waste from todays nuclear plants. They can also be built to desalinate water. All without producing ANY carbon. Also because it is thorium instead of enriched uranium you are literally looking at ENDING the threat of nuclear proliferation.