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View Diary: Nearly triple efficiency and lower cost: thin-film solar cell breakthrough (281 comments)

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  •  Running the numbers... (1+ / 0-)
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    Assuming gold costs roughly $1800 per ounce, that the gold mesh has a 50% packing efficiency and that the mesh is around 40 nanometers thick, the added cost per square meter of panel due to the gold is around $50.  

    I'm not sure whether that's enough to make plastic PV cells non-competitive with silicon--not my field!

    You think it's hot? Imagine what it would be like if global warming really existed!

    by JSc on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 12:28:57 PM PST

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    •  It would depend on total cost verses output (1+ / 0-)
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      But I'll suppose in this case that gold is not essential and could be replaced by cheaper material since it is basically functioning as a metal mask and as the diarist suggest could be replaced with aluminum.

      I assume gold was used because it was available for the researcher to use (gold sputtering is a process universally available in electronic R+D labs and a versatile process for all kinds of uses).

      But even assuming gold had to be used, the cost of other materials such as the plastic substrates is likely to be cheaper than conventional Si substrate based processes and the cost of processing far cheaper, so total cost might be substantially less. We would then have to calculate the cost per unit of power produced.

      We also need to consider what would be suitable applications; I don't assume this is necessarily targeted for solar farm applications but might be a candidate for portable applications where bulk and weight is a more important factor than power density, or for applications like lighting where you might use such cells as exterior roofing or awnings (I assume the panels would be bendable) with power stored for lighting at night.

      No energy technology is a universal solution, I think the "atomic future" proved that.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Fri Dec 07, 2012 at 10:05:44 PM PST

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      •  Aluminum won't cut it... (0+ / 0-)

        due to the nature of plasmonic effects.  They're highly material dependent--gold's native plasmon is in the green (like the peak of the sun's emission spectrum), but aluminum's native plasmon is in the ultraviolet (where most solar light never reaches us due to atmospheric absorption).

        That said, you're right on one point.  There are likely situations where Chou's technology or something similar would be helpful, even if it's not practical for general application.

        You think it's hot? Imagine what it would be like if global warming really existed!

        by JSc on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 01:39:45 PM PST

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