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Solar Nanowire Manufacturing Paves Way for More Efficient Solar Modules

21 April 2016

Swedish solar startup Sol Voltaics announced it has successfully aligned and oriented photovoltaic (PV) nanowires in a thin film, a technology that could boost solar module efficiencies by 27% or more and boost energy conversion efficiencies by as much as 50% over current solar modules.

Sol Voltaics says nanowires are notoriously difficult to align due to the high aspect ratios and material characteristics. However the company has been able to control nanowire orientation and alignment at centimeter scale on standard-sized wafers, taking a significant step forward in the production of solar films for tandem PV modules.

According to Erik Smith, CEO of Sol Voltaics, gallium arsenide (GaAs) nanowires hold great promise for boosting solar module efficiencies beyond current levels. By moving one step closer to manufacturing solar nanowire films on a commercial scale, panel manufacturers will be able to enhance the energy-generating capability beyond the reach of current products, Smith says.

Previously, Sol Voltaics was able to record PV conversion efficiency of 15.3% for the GaAs nanowire solar cells through testing done by Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE). After 18 months of initial testing, the cells showed little or no degradation after being retested by Fraunhofer ISE, Sol Voltaics says.

“Realistically we have a few remaining hurdles to get over in order to get into commercialization, but we're very confident we can deliver a truly transformative energy solution, the kind of solution called for by the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, COP 21 summit and other global efforts to combat climate change and create a clean-energy economy,” Smith says.

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