Environmentally Friendly Nitride Semiconductor in Solar Panels
Researchers in Tokyo have discovered an environmentally friendly and low cost substitute to the common silicon solar panels. This new material is a nitride semiconductor. The thin photovoltaics made from nitride semiconductor has the same efficiency of the silicon ones and cuts the cost of making a solar panel. This nitride semiconductor, because it is cheap opens up doors of opportunity in industries. Solar panels today are not widely used because of the immense cost of setting one up, although future costs are low. The initial outlay sometimes acts as a deterrent to installing one.
Scientists in Tokyo used the photovoltaic effect to sandwich together thin layers of n- type and p- type materials to produce electricity form sunlight more efficiently than the average silicon solar panels that are widely available in the market. What’s more is that to get a nitride semiconductor to sit inside a solar panel is more cost effective than current practice.
The current practice of silicon in solar panels:
The current practice uses crystalline silicon technology in making solar panels that are expensive and made using toxic materials. To make such solar panels, the solar panels would also require rare materials which is another reason why the cost of such solar panels is pushed up.
The new method of nitride semiconductors is cheap, environmentally friendly and cleaner than its silicon counterpart making it a viable option to use in solar panels.
How nitride semiconductors are made?
Researchers have used a binary compound known as copper nitride which is environmentally friendly. But growing nitride crystals which is of a high quality is difficult.
Researchers overcame this problem by using a catalytic reaction which uses ammonia and oxidant gas. The compound thus made has an n- type conductor due to the excess of electrons that results.
Scientists then added fluorine solution to the empty cavity in the crystal to get the semiconductor to become p- type too. This they found happened in accordance to what they had calculated earlier.
Why nitride semiconductors are better than the current tradition:
To make a photovoltaic film requires both p- type and n- type sandwich material to sit inside a solar panel. But getting both n- type and p- type materials together is difficult and requires a combination of materials.
But researchers at Tokyo have got the answer to this problem in the form of a nitride semiconductor which has both n- type as well as p- type in its structure.
What’s more is that this new nitride semiconductor is highly efficient in generating electricity form solar energy and is environmentally friendly and cheap because of the materials used.
While on the other hand silicon solar panels are made from materials that are expensive and toxic to use.
Because nitride semiconductors use materials that are abundantly available and cheap while being highly efficient, it can be brought into a scalable form. This means that it could be used in industries and has a variety of applications that it can be used in.