Old 08-09-2008, 09:30 AM Offline   #1 (permalink)



 
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Default Bigger, Cheaper Solar Cells

Phenombecile800 writes "First Solar, a start-up from Arizona, is making photovoltaic cells at a fraction of the usual cost. Their secret: increasing the light-catching area 'from postage-stamp to traffic-sign dimensions,' reducing the manufacturing time to 1/10th of the competition's, and thinning the active element to 1/100th the usual thickness over a glass substrate, which enables the production of large panels. IEEE Spectrum provides some technical details about the production process. 'Glass is placed on rollers and fed into the first chamber, where it is heated to 600 C. Then it is transferred into the second chamber, which is full of cadmium sulfide vapor, formed by heating solid CdS to 700 C. The vapor forms a submicrometer deposit on the glass as it moves through this cloud, after which a similar process in a third chamber adds a layer of micrometers-thick CdTe in about 40 seconds. Then a gust of nitrogen gas rapidly cools the panels to 300 C in a fourth chamber, strengthening the material so that it can withstand hail and high winds.'"
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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