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Environment / Sustainability

Developments in photovoltaic energy

March 26, 2009

This two-part lecturer will focus on the two primary thin-film materials that are currently being used to create photovoltaics and how PV energy losses might be mitigated. Some of the lecture time will be allocated to an update on developments in photovoltaic energy.

Thin film materials for photovoltaics

Monday, March 30, 4-5 p.m.
Engineering 120
(Hammond Auditorium)
Refreshments at 4:45 p.m.

The Physics Department at Colorado State University is sponsoring a colloquium on Grain boundaries in thin-film solar cells.  The speaker is Professor Jim Sites who has been doing photovoltaic research at Colorado State since 1974. 

(Photo at right: Photovoltaic "tree" in Styria, Austria)

Photovoltaic production takes the lead 

Thin-film photovoltaic (PV) production in the U.S. has continued to grow rapidly and has now surpassed crystalline silicon. The first part of the talk will give an update on developments in photovoltaic energy generally, including how much electricity is being generated, deployment strategies, manufacturing strategies, and issues of increasing importance as PV-generated electricity becomes a significant fraction of the total. 

New thin-film materials only a micron in dimension

The bulk of the talk will focus on the two primary polycrystalline thin-film materials, CdTe and Cu(In,Ga)Se2, which consist of crystallites approximately a micron in dimension and which are the basis for a large fraction of the thin-film PV success. The talk will examine the device-physics implications of the internal grain boundaries in these materials, in particular their impact on PV losses, what might be done to mitigate those losses, and why in one case, nature seems to be on our side. 

(Photo at right: thin film solar cells) 

Sites: Research on efficiency losses  

Jim Sites has been doing PV research at Colorado State since 1974. His specific contributions to the PV community have been with measurement and analysis techniques that identify, separate, and quantify the efficiency losses of solar cells. In this work, he has collaborated with several companies and other universities, as well as with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and he has a large number of students now working in the PV industry. 

Contact: Kathy Reischauer
Phone: (970) 491-6206