An international research team led by The Australian National University (ANU) has made a new type of silicon that better uses sunlight and promises to cut the cost of solar technology.
The researchers say their world-first invention could help reduce the cost of renewable electricity below that of existing coal power stations, as well as lead to more efficient solar cells.
Senior researcher ANU Professor Jodie Bradby said silicon was used as the raw material for solar cells because of its abundance, low-cost and non-toxicity.
“But the standard form of silicon does not use all available sunlight,” Professor Bradby said.
“We have proved that we can easily make this new kind of silicon—previously thought unobtainable under normal room temperature and pressure—which could be used for making more efficient solar cells and lead to cheaper energy”.
“We now need to measure how well this material absorbs light and behaves electrically. We also need to scale up and then work on integrating this material into existing solar industries. This will take another three to five years”, Professor Bradby stated.