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A Startup’s Nanowire Ink Lifts Solar Cell Efficiency

• Martin LaMonica via TechnologyReview.com
 

Ink filled with microscopic semiconductors called nanowires could make solar power cheaper by boosting the efficiency of solar panels by 25 percent, without adding much cost to manufacturing, says Sol Voltaics, a startup that has raised $11 million, and which this week announced its intention to commercialize the ink.

The ink is based on two advances from Lund University in Sweden. Professor Lars Samuelson demonstrated that nanowires can improve the efficiency of solar cells, and he developed a new way to manufacture nanowires that could make them practical to use.

Increasing solar cell efficiency is one of the most effective ways to reduce the cost of solar power, since it can lower the cost per watt of solar panels as well as reduce installation costs, because fewer solar panels would be needed (see “Alta Devices: Finding a Solar Solution”).

Lund, Sweden-based Sol Voltaics plans to develop equipment to produce nanowire ink, and then sell it to existing manufacturers.  The ink is expected to boost efficiency by helping solar cells absorb more sunlight.

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