x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Masdar to cut cost of solar energy

Researchers at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology have produced a solar cell that could lower the cost of generating renewable energy.

ABU DHABI // Researchers at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology have produced a solar cell that could lower the cost of generating renewable energy.

This is the first time in the UAE this has been achieved.

Solar photovoltaic cells, which turn sunlight into electricity, are made using expensive materials such as silicone, but researchers worldwide are making solar cells with technology that relies on cheaper polymer materials.

These cheaper novel cells are much less durable and have about a third of the efficiency of those made from silicon.

With the production of the new cell, Masdar has entered the race to develop a solar technology that will make production of electricity cheaper.

Leading the effort are Dr Marcus Dahlem, assistant professor of microsystems engineering, and Dr Samuele Lilliu, a post-doctoral fellow.

Other faculty, as well as an Emirati student, Mejd Alsari, have also assisted.

The cells have been produced using printed electronics, with the cells deposited on top of flexible substrates using printing devices.

This means inkjet-printing deposition techniques can be used to add colour to the cells, making them an attractive solution for building-integrated solar systems.

"The team will continue to optimise the process to seek further gains in efficiency," said Mike Tiner, the manager of fabrication and microscopy facilities at Masdar Institute's clean room, where the cells were manufactured. "Many of these gains are expected to result from understanding the interaction of the different materials used to fabricate the device."

The Masdar Institute is home to several powerful electron microscopes capable of investigating these interactions, right down to the atomic scale, Mr Tiner said.

"The outstanding feat of our researchers and faculty consolidates the status of Masdar Institute as a research-driven institution, continuously striving to contribute to Abu Dhabi's long-term objectives in advanced technology," said Dr Fred Moavenzadeh, the president of Masdar Institute.

vtodorova@thenational.ae