A professor at
Vikram Dalal, the director of
One of the challenges facing solar cell manufacturers is the fact that most cells are manufactured with crystalline silicon, the same material that is used to make semiconductors. Because computer parts have so much more value than solar cells, Dalal said there is a shortage of silicon for solar cells.
There is a way to manufacture solar cells using a lot less silicon. Dalal said non-crystalline silicon wafers that are about 2 micrometers thick can replace crystalline wafers that are about 300 micrometers thick. The result is thin solar cells that can absorb a great deal of light and can be mounted on flexible plastic and other materials.
However, the thin cells produce about half the electricity as crystalline silicon and their performance drops by about another 15 to 20 per cent over time.