New Probe to Enable PV Cell Improvement

By Alexander E. Braun on, January 5 2010

Professor Venkatesware Bommisetty, of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at South Dakota State University (SDSU, Brookings, S.D.), is working to build a first-of-its-kind microscope that he expects will play an important role in improving solar cell and LED efficiencies.

The work that Bommisetty and his team are carrying out is specifically aimed at probing various defects, different structures at nanoscale levels, and their influence on the overall efficiency of solar cells. Bommisetty's research efforts have been partly focused on developing better technologies to make such measurements at the nanoscale level. "Here at the university, we're doing research on all kinds of solar cells: silicon, organic and hybrids," he said. "Normally, the efficiencies we are able to obtain out of these cells are lower than what we should really be able to get. Most researchers — including us — do not know what the reason for this is, and where and at what scale these efficiency losses are occurring." This research into photoactivated processes is being funded by a $456,000 National Science Foundation grant, with SDSU and its Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science supplying an additional $200,000.

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