WEDNESDAY 08 MAY, 2013 |
Solar Cell Microwave Cookery - 18 Minutes On High
You can almost imagine a cheery 'ding!' sound signifying your solar
cell is done and ready to harvest power from the sun.
It's not quite as simple as that, but microwave ovens are increasingly being
used in solar cell research as a way to produce a nanocrystal semiconductor
material rapidly using cheap, common and less toxic metals - and with less
We first reported on the use
of microwave ovens
in 2012, when engineers at Oregon State University had developed a way to use microwave heating in the synthesis of
Copper zinc tin sulfide (CTZS).
At that time, University of Utah metallurgists were also busy on developing
their own CTZS process using an old standard microwave oven that was about to be
They have determined the optimum time required to create the most uniform crystals of the CZTS semiconductor;
which is 18 minutes in the microwave oven used, and have also constructed a small photovoltaic solar cell to confirm that the material works.
“We hope in the next five years there will be some commercial products from this, and we are continuing to pursue applications and
improvements," says Michael Free, a professor of metallurgical engineering
at the University. "It’s a good market, but we don’t know exactly where the market will
Professor Free and Prashant Sarswat's process differs from the University of
Oregon development in that different precursor chemicals are used to start the
process - acetate salts instead of chloride salts - and a different solvent;
oleylamine instead of ethylene glycol.
CTZS's potential isn't just in solar cells - it can also be used in the
theromoelectric conversion of heat to electricity, circuits, LED's and
The researchers are publishing their study of the microwaved photovoltaic
semiconductor in the June 1 issue of the Journal of Crystal Growth.
Other news for Wednesday 08 May, 2013
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