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Research: Jörg Horzel, Jozef Szlufcik, Mia Honore, Johan Nijs

Solar panels

Solar solution: making solar cell production easier and cheaper

Inventors

Jörg Horzel, Jozef Szlufcik, Mia Honore, Johan Nijs

Invention

A major step in the development of solar-energy technology, this improved process for creating selective-emitter solar cells provides a more efficient path to solar power.

Patent numbers

EP 960443 B1
EP 874387 B1

Country

Belgium, Germany

Company

IMEC

Sector

Solar energy

The invention in a nutshell

Jörg Horzel and his team developed a process that streamlined the production of silicon-based solar cells, which were long too expensive for commercially viable production.

In order for solar cells to conduct electricity, their silicon base must be coated with phosphorous on one side, which involved applying a phosphorous paste to the entire front side of the cell. This caused some of the paste to end up on the rear side, and removing it was an expensive and time-consuming process. Horzel found a way to apply the paste to only certain sections of the cell surface, eliminating the step of removing it from the rear side. The result was a more efficient and cost-effective path to solar energy.

Societal benefit

As a source of renewable energy, solar power comes without the environmental costs of energy sources such as oil and coal. Thanks in part to Jörg Horzel’s invention, solar-energy production has increased by an average of 40% per year worldwide since 2000.

Economic benefit

The invention reduces manufacturing costs and allows for mass production. It contributes to solar energy’s development as a viable source of sustainable energy. In countries that receive lots of sunlight, prices for harnessing solar energy are already competitive with oil-based electricity.

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