Soaking in the sun: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute develops advanced sunlight absorption coating

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email

Professor Shawn-Yu Lin of Rensselaer’s physics department has published findings this week after a year-long project that can potentially help the solar industry overcome some of the major hurdles involving the percentage of solar absorption. Working with his team, Lin has produced a new antireflective coating that increases the amount of sunlight captured by solar panels, while also allowing the panels to take in sun from almost every angle.

“To get maximum efficiency when converting solar power into electricity, you want a solar panel that can absorb nearly every single photon of light, regardless of the sun’s position in the sky,” said Shawn-Yu Lin, Professor of Physics at Rensselaer and a member of the University’s Future Chips Constellation, who led the research project.  “Our new antireflective coating makes this possible.”

Published in his paper “Realization of a Near Perfect Antireflection Coating for Silicon Solar Energy”, Lin demonstrated that a current untreated silicon solar cell absorbs about 67.4 percent of sunlight. This means that almost one-third of the sunlight shone on the cell is reflected away and unusable. But after the silicon surface is treated with Lin’s reflective coating, the panel absorbs 96.21 percent of the sunlight shone on it, allowing only 3.79 percent of the sunlight to be reflected. Remarkably, the large percentage of solar absorption was constant throughout the entire spectrum of sunlight including UV, visible light and infrared.

Along with absorbing over 28 percent more sunlight, the coating helped the panels absorb light from several different angles. A current solar panel absorbs the most light when the sun is shining directly on it; not from a side or skewed angle. Because of this, some solar arrangements are made to slowly move through the day so that the panels are always aligned with the sun showing directly on them. While this helps the panels to absorb more light, it is offset by the cost of up-keeping the mechanized system and any potential errors from misalignment, for example. Lin’s antireflective coating absorbs the light from all angles, equally and evenly, thereby potentially eliminating the need for mechanized systems and the additional cost they require.

“At the beginning of the project, we asked ‘would it be possible to create a single antireflective structure that can work from all angles?’ Then we attacked the problem from a fundamental perspective, tested and fine-tuned our theory, and created a working device,” Lin said.

Lin’s coating differs from the current antireflective coating, that can only transmit light from one particular wavelength, by stacking seven of the layers on top of one another in a way that each layer increases the antireflective properties of the layer below it and curves the sunlight being captured to angles that enhance the coating’s antireflective properties and therefore allows each layer to transit and capture light that may have previously been reflected off. Each of the seven layers has a height between 50 to 100 nanometers and is made from silicon dioxide and titanium dioxide nanorods, which were affixed to a silicon substrate via chemical vapor disposition. Lin claims that the his new coating can be joined to almost any photovoltaic materials for use in solar cells, including III-V multi-junction and cadmium telluride.

For more information please click here.

28 July 2021
LONGi has launched its Hi-MO N module, the company's first bifacial module with N-type TOPCon cells, designed to deliver ultra- high value and lower LCOE to utility-scale PV power plants. This PV TechTalk Product Series webinar will provide an overview of the module’s technology and how the introduction of n-type technologies will provide efficiency and performance gains for solar project developers.
29 July 2021
This free webinar will explore the ongoing opportunities in the UK solar PV market, looking at global technology trends and how they apply to the UK. Join us for an overview of the project pipeline and forecast for deployment over the coming years. We'll be looking at the types of modules available and being used in the UK and presenting a case study on the deployment of bifacial modules in this market.
19 August 2021
The utility-scale PV market is poised for exponential growth and yet the industry still has many fundamental opportunities to improve on standards and best practice. Tracker shade loss has been one of those topics that deserve more attention, but has been typically handled by derate factors rather than trying to accurately forecast the loss over the life of the system. Join Nextracker’s subject matter experts, Aron Dobos and Neelesh Umachandran, and Rounak Kharait, director of solar energy assessments at DNV, for a webinar about why shade modeling matters and recommendations on what the solar industry should do about it.
25 August 2021
Energy Next is a new industry exhibition focusing on the latest renewable energy and energy efficiency technology, which will be held for the first time in 2021 in Sydney, Australia alongside the Clean Energy Council’s Australian Clean Energy Summit, the peak gathering of leaders driving Australia's energy transformation. Organised by the same people behind Australia’s largest clean energy event, All-Energy Australia, Energy Next will give visitors two days of access to key suppliers in the industry, free-to-attend professional development and industry workshops, and networking opportunities to better understand clean energy issues and solutions and learn about the latest developments in this transformational, dynamic sector.
25 August 2021
The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste takes place in Fortaleza, Brazil. It addresses leading local and international experts on solar power and renewable energy in the region. The Summit’s mission is to provide in-depth education, enable high-quality networking opportunities, expand the use of PV technologies at regional and national level and strengthen the local PV industry. The Intersolar Summit Brasil Nordeste is organized by Intersolar South America - Latin America’s largest exhibition and conference for the solar industry: Solar Promotion International GmbH, Pforzheim, Freiburg Management and Marketing International GmbH (FMMI) and Aranda Eventos & Congressos Ltda, São Paulo as co-organizer.
25 August 2021
Join us to hear directly from the CTOs and heads-of-research from the top-20 cell/wafer producers to the PV industry today. The event will focus on predicting the key metrics underpinning the next big shift to n-type with answers to the key questions: When will the transition to n-type happen? Which companies will be first to 10 GW capacity and production? Who will be the key equipment suppliers for the new production lines? Which n-type process flow/architecture will emerge as the front-runner? What will polysilicon purity and wafer thickness levels look like for optimized n-type manufacturing? What will the upstream poly/wafer supply-chain look like in 5 years from now?

Read Next

July 27, 2021
Greek industrial group Mytilineos recorded a net profit of €77 million (US$91 million) in H1 2021, however the firm’s renewables division witnessed a drop in revenue year-on-year.
July 27, 2021
Canadian Solar has closed a BRL500 million (US$100 million) financing facility to develop a Brazilian solar portfolio claimed to be the country’s largest, while also giving it the option to hold built solar assets for longer.
July 27, 2021
Community Choice Aggregators (CCA) Central Coast Community Energy (CCCE) and Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) have signed contracts for 778MW of renewable energy generation and 118.75MW of energy storage in California.
July 27, 2021
More than 140 business leaders have urged the US Congress to pass President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, telling lawmakers that the bill is “desperately needed” to renew the nation’s infrastructure
July 27, 2021
A round-up of the latest news from the US solar market, featuring Vision Solar’s commitment to hire “hundreds” of sales staff as part of a two-state expansion, Recurrent Energy’s sale of two major assets in Texas and news of 8minute Solar Energy strengthening its legal team.
July 27, 2021
Tesla reported retrofit solar installations of 85MW in Q2 2021, cementing its recovery from a worst-ever performance in the corresponding period last year.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Solar Media Events, Upcoming Webinars
July 29, 2021
Upcoming Webinars
August 19, 2021
At 9am (PT) | 6pm (CEST)
Solar Media Events
August 25, 2021