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Paper-Thin Plastic Film Soaks Up Sun to Create Solar EnergyA non-crystallized silicon known as amorphous silicon is the semiconductor material most frequently chosen for deposition, because it is a strong absorber of light. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, amorphous silicon absorbs solar radiation 40 times more efficiently than single-crystal silicon, and a thin film only about 1-micrometer (one one-millionth of a meter) thick containing amorphous silicon can absorb 90 percent of the usable light energy shining on it. Peak efficiency and significant reduction in the use of semiconductor and thin film materials translate directly into time and money savings for manufacturers. Thanks in part to NASA, thin film solar cells derived from amorphous silicon are gaining more and more attention in a market that has otherwise been dominated by mono- and poly-crystalline silicon cells for years. At Glenn Research Center, the Photovoltaic & Space Environments Branch conducts research focused on developing this type of thin film solar cell for space applications. Placing solar cells on thin film materials provides NASA with an attractively priced solution to fabricating other types of solar cells, given that thin film solar cells require significantly less semiconductor material to generate power. Using the super-lightweight solar materials also affords NASA the opportunity to cut down on payload weight during vehicle launches, as well as the weight of spacecraft being sent into orbit.
Document ID
20070019334
Document Type
Other
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
September 1, 2006
Publication Information
Publication: Spinoff 2006
Subject Category
Technology Utilization and Surface Transportation
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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