Nanoscale defect detection focuses on lowering solar panel costs

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

NanoMend is funded by the EU’s Framework Seven programme that are vital in products such as printed electronics and solar panels.

The University of Huddersfield’s EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Advanced Metrology is a key collaborator in NanoMend.  The scientists have earned an award for the development of a Wavelength Scanning Interferometer, which has uses that include the detection of defects in the coating that can have an impact on the longevity of roll-to-roll vapour barrier coatings for flexible PV (photovoltaic) cells.  When the defects are minimized, the results will include reduced cost and increased reliability of the flexible PV cells, so that this type of renewable energy will be more widely adopted.

This is the area of research in which Mohamed Elrawemi is closely involved.  Supported by funding from the Libyan Government’s Higher Education Ministry, Elrawemi is in the later stages of a PhD, supervised by Professor Liam Blunt, who is Research Director for the EPSRC Centre.  Since 2012, Mohamed has contributed to 23 papers dealing with aspects of the NanoMend research.  The latest is Metrology of Al2O3 Barrier Film for Flexible CIGS Solar Cells, due to appear in the new edition of the International Journal of Energy Optimization and Engineering.

The NanoMend researchers at the University of Huddersfield have been working with the Durham-based Centre for Process Innovation, a leading producer of printable
electronics, including flexible solar panels.  In these products, a thin ‘barrier film’ is vital to protect the electronics.  Tiny defects can allow the penetration of water vapour that can degrade the barrier and reduce the efficiency of the solar panel itself.

The team based at the Huddersfield EPSRC Centre have been working on a new metrology system that can detect tiny defects and will therefore aid the manufacture of roll-to-roll barrier film in large volumes.

Vasant, P., Weber, G., & Vo, D. N. (2012). International Journal of Energy Optimization and Engineering (IJEOE). doi:10.4018/IJEOE

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