If you have noticed the design and layout of solar panels around, you would have thought a minute or two about its aesthetics. Though not too bad, the dark colored cells could be a put off. Scientists have now decided to add some color to them. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute of Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Germany are working on a new type of photovoltaic using thin film technology to give some color to the panels.
The Institute is developing a SIS (semiconductor-insulator-semiconductor) variety solar panel. The package consists of a silicon substrate which absorbs light and converts it into electricity.
The silicon wafers are covered with a transparent insulator and a 100 nanometer thick oxide layer is deposited on top of that. This now forms a layer in which the oxide acts as semiconductor and permits maximum light to reach the silicon wafer below.
This layer acts as the key to making solar cells to work in more colors. The surface features different optical refraction index by varying the physical thickness of the transparent conductive oxide. This gives out a different color.
The change in color does not make solar cells less efficient. The cell’s working is also not affected by the thickness of the conductive oxide layer. The SIS cell has the same simulated efficiency of around 20%.
The technology might later on use a type of inkjet printing that deposits the oxide layer with more flexibility, which would allow complex designs too. With this, solar cells could turn out to be part of beautiful architectural designs in future.