University of Ottawa and partners achieve manufacture first back-contact micrometric photovoltaic cells

University of Ottawa, together with national and international partners, has achieved a world first by manufacturing solar PV cells with a size twice the thickness of a strand of hair.
University of Ottawa and partners achieve manufacture first back-contact micrometric photovoltaic cells
Courtesy of the University of Ottawa.

The cells have significant advantages over conventional solar technologies, reducing electrode-induced shadowing by 95 percent and potentially lowering energy production costs by up to three times.

The technological breakthrough - led by Mathieu de Lafontaine, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Ottawa and a part-time physics professor; and Karin Hinzer, vice-dean, research, and University Research Chair in Photonic Devices for Energy at the Faculty of Engineering - paves the way for a new era of miniaturization in the field of electronic devices.

The micrometric photovoltaic cell manufacturing process involved a partnership between the University of Ottawa, the Université de Sherbrooke in Quebec and the Laboratoire des Technologies de la Microélectronique in Grenoble, France.

“These micrometric photovoltaic cells have remarkable characteristics, including an extremely small size and significantly reduced shadowing” said Ms Hinzer. “Those properties lend themselves to various applications, from densification of electronic devices to areas such as solar cells, lightweight nuclear batteries for space exploration and miniaturization of devices for telecommunications and the internet of things.”

The international partnership between Canada and France illustrates the importance of innovation and research in micromanufacturing, leading the way to a future in which technology will become more powerful and accessible than ever. It also marks a historic step in the evolution of the global scientific and technology scene.

Mathieu de Lafontaine added that the technological breakthrough promises significant benefits for society and that less expensive, more powerful solar cells will help accelerate the energy shift.

“The development of these first back-contact micrometric photovoltaic cells is a crucial step in the miniaturization of electronic devices” Mr de Lafontaine said.

The innovative achievement is described in more detail in the article titled “3D Interconnects for III-V Semiconductor Heterostructures for Miniaturized Power Devices” in Cell Reports Physical Science.

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