Natcore Technology, of Red Bank, NJ has developed a new solar cell that absorbs pretty much every single photon that hits it, leading to an increase in efficiency. The company claims that their new cell absorbs 99.7% of all photons that hit it, compared to the typical solar cell that absorbs about 96% of the available photons.
The more photons absorbed means quite a bit, according to Natcore. They claim that the “absolute black” cell can increase overall power generation efficiency by 3%, which can make a big difference in Return on Investment (ROI). Their process also increases the efficiency of the cell on cloudy days and during the morning and late afternoon, when less direct sunlight is hitting the panel.
Using black silicon patents that the company licensed from the DoE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), they produce their new cells by etching nanoscale pores into the silicon wafer. They then fill and overcoat the pores with black silicon dioxide via a liquid phase deposition process.
Natcore CEO Chuck Provini says that they’re currently working with equipment manufacturers to create a production tool that could make up to 2,000 silicon wafers per hour. They’ve already started talks with several potential customers worldwide.