2009: A Solar Cell Using Inorganic “Grass”
Silicon solar cells are versatile and reliable, but their high cost has limited the technology’s adoption. This project promises a new low-cost, low-energy technique for creating silicon solar cells. The group’s innovative process—developed at Cornell—replaces expensive single-crystal silicon wafers with grass-like silicon nanowires grown on metal. In the course of the study, researchers will refine the mechanism for single-crystal nanowire growth on a metal substrate, demonstrate the technique’s characteristics, and develop appropriate production technology and prototypes. If proven comparable to current crystalline solar cells, nanowire solar cells will provide an inexpensive alternative to solar cells now on the market—a major step toward the goal of making clean, sustainable energy widely available.