Kelvin Lynn, Regents Professor of Physics and faculty member in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, has received a $200,000 award from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office to advance solar research and development.
Lynn, Boeing Chair for Advanced Materials, and his group are working to improve cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar technology. Silicon solar cells represent 90 percent of the solar cell market, but CdTe solar cells offer a low‑cost alternative. They have the lowest carbon footprint in solar technology and perform better than silicon in real world conditions, including in hot, humid weather and under low light.
Researchers have been working to improve the efficiency of the technology but have been unable to reach its predicted limits. Two years ago, Lynn’s group made a key improvement in the technology by carefully adding a small number of phosphorus atoms during the manufacturing process, improving its open‑circuit voltage, or the maximum voltage available from the solar cell. The researchers are leaders in crystal growth research and technology and their crystal growth and doping methods have led to higher quality materials for detectors and photovoltaics.
The project is part of the Energy Department’s FY2018 Solar Energy Technologies Office funding program, which invests in new projects to lower solar electricity costs and to support a growing solar workforce.