March 10th was Solar Appreciation Day. It gives us a fantastic opportunity to bring attention to the value of solar energy and its applications.
The main advantage of using solar energy is to provide a sustainable and clean source of energy which reduces pollution and the use of fossil fuels. The continued move towards improved solar energy is driven by several factors; the worldwide need for renewable energy sources, cost reduction associated with the manufacture of the solar panels, and improved quality of the solar panels potentially combined with an energy storage solution to deal with periods of high demand.
It is interesting to follow this development and see how today's challenges are being resolved. There is so much work in this application space covering the development of new materials, failure analysis and quality control of the production process. Nano-characterization techniques such as EDS (Energy Dispersive Spectrometry), EBSD (Electron Back Scatter Diffraction) AND EBIC (Electron Beam Induced Current) are effective for helping to resolve these challenges.
EDS is generally used to determine the chemical composition or show chemical variations in a material. However, it can also be used to automatically search for and identify contaminants in either raw material or final products. Thereby offering solutions to a wide range of problems in the industry.
The performance of a solar cell is related to the microstructure of the material. Understanding how the grain size, texture and boundary distributions relate to the properties of the final product is vital for the development and optimization of the solar cell materials. EBSD is a crucial technique for understanding structure, crystal orientation and phase of solar cell materials.
EBIC is a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) based technique, which visualises electrical activity in materials on the nanoscale. In the context of solar cells, it offers a solution to locate and characterize dislocations by showing carrier recombination at dislocation sites, closing the gap between macro scale properties of the solar cell and the nanoscale dislocations which control its performance.
By combining these techniques, a wealth of information can be obtained, offering solutions for the development of a greener and cleaner future. It is an exciting area to be following, which give us all improved benefits. We can not only enjoy the sunshine today, but also know that it will help to shape the future for us all.
To find out more about our solutions for your solar energy challenges follow the link below to view our recent webinar or view our app notes library for more information on energy generation and storage.