University of Delaware
delware environmental institute

UD leads two solar projects funded by Energy Departments SunShot Initiative

The University of Delaware’s Institute of Energy Conversion (IEC) has been awarded $2.1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative for two research projects aiming to improve the performance of solar cells while reducing their manufacturing cost. Senior scientist Steven Hegedus will lead a three-year, $1.25 million project for work on the most efficient silicon solar cell to date, known as the interdigitated back contact (IBC) solar cell. All the metal contacts are on the non-illuminated (back) side of this silicon cell. This allows more light to be harvested in the cell because any shadowing from front-side grid lines, found in conventional solar cells, is eliminated.

Several companies have produced IBC cell designs with an efficiency of more than 25 percent, but the production costs for these solar cells are higher due to difficulties in patterning and isolating the positive and negative electrodes on the back of the solar cell, Hegedus explained.

Hegedus and his team, including Ujjwal Das, associate scientist at IEC, will explore the use of advanced laser patterning techniques to overcome these challenges. The project team will include the Laser Manufacturing Laboratory at the University of Virginia and Silevo, a leading manufacturer of high-efficiency silicon solar modules, based in Fremont, California.