British researchers aim to develop new materials for solar cells

A University of Bristol-led research team working to develop new active materials for thin-film solar cells based on abundant and low-cost elements has been awarded £2 million ($3.3 million) in funding by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The »Photovoltaic Technology based on Earth Abundant Materials (PVTEAM)« study is one of four research projects awarded a total of £10.3 million by the EPSRC. Each project aims to find safer, more sustainable alternatives to many of the raw materials used by manufacturing industries.
The Bristol-led research aims to replace key elements – such as gallium, indium, cadmium and tellurium – used in the manufacture of solar cells, while also implementing processes compatible with large-scale manufacturing. As these elements have low abundance, high costs and high toxicity, finding alternatives to them represents an extraordinary opportunity, the team says.
University of Bristol Professor David Fermin explains: »The aim of this programme is to lay the foundations of sustainable thin-film photovoltaic technology based on Earth-abundant materials and scalable manufacturing processes. This will be achieved by developing processes and production technologies for materials and material systems to a level they can be taken up by manufacturing industries.«

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