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Last updated: 24 March 2021

Micro Solar Cells

What Are Micro Solar Cells?

Solar cell technology research and development has resulted in numerous breakthroughs. One of these is the micro solar cells, of which the name refers to, are small photovoltaic cells with the capability of absorbing larger amounts of light than other solar cells based on their capabilities due to the technology used in manufacturing them.

Micro solar cells can utilise the solar energy they absorb two times as much as other solar panels. This is achieved with inexpensive technology, meaning that these cells are also affordable. Their small size permits micro cells to dissipate heat and stay cool without the aid of an extra cooling system.

The size of micro solar cells can be as little as 600 micrometers on each side. The cells are composed of three semiconducting layers, each layer absorbing a different band of sunlight. Few materials are needed to produce them, as they are mostly manufactured using a printing process. The efficiency of micro solar cells ranges from 25 to 35 percent, having the ability to provide electricity for a reduced price compared to other solar cells.

How are Micro Solar Cells Made?

Micro solar cells are typically made by building up active layers on the surface of a thin semiconductor layer, then dividing the layer into pieces. The printing process is initiated by treating the thin semiconductor layers in a similar fashion, however, instead of dividing the layers, chemical imprinting is used to score the surface of a layer into microscale cells. Furthermore, another layer is added to the treated semiconductor layers, with the purpose of absorbing all of the added chemicals which eat away the added layer, cutting the cells from the surface. Afterwards, a robot bearing a polymer stamp then moves over the layer, picking up the cells and placing them on top of an assortment of ceramic backings printed with electrical contacts. The process uses only a thin part of the surface of the layer. Each 10cm layer can be used to produce 36,000 micro solar cells.

Each micro solar cell is then covered with a “ball lens” whose purpose is to uniformly distribute the light. These lenses capture sunlight from a wide angle. Finally, the lens-topped cells are grouped into arrays which are topped with silicon lenses that direct sunlight onto the smaller ball lenses.

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