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High-Efficiency Durable Antireflective Coating for Solar Panels

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Invention: The University of Florida is seeking companies interested in commercializing an inexpensive antireflective coating (ARC) that significantly boosts light-to-electricity conversion and a device for manufacturing this coating in combination with silicon substrates. Crystalline silicon solar cells account for 98 percent of the photovoltaic panels on the market. When light strikes the silicon cells packets of solar energy (called \"photons\"") are absorbed and converted into electricity. Because silicon has a high refractive index more than 35 percent of incident light is reflected away from the panel\'s surface before it can be converted into usable energy. Existing antireflective coatings have numerous drawbacks. Not only are they fragile and expensive they do not perform well: Wavelengths containing a large portion of the incident solar energy are still reflected. Inspired by the eyes of moths researchers at the University of Florida have developed an antireflective coating that mitigates these problems. Moths\' eyes are composed of hexagonal sections that contain thousands of rows of conical protuberances. These make it difficult for photons to escape the eye giving the insects excellent vision in low-light conditions. The invention an inexpensive moth-eye ARC is etched directly into the multicrystalline silicon substrate. It reduces reflection maximizes absorption and displays greater environmental stability in a variety of settings including space. Existing coatings can reflect as much as 40 percent of incoming light but this new ARC has a reflection ratio of less than 2 percent. Technology: Antireflective coatings (ARCs) have become an essential component in photovoltaic modules. There are several types of ARCs but most are expensive and reflect wavelengths of light that hold a large portion of solar energy. Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a sub-wavelength structured moth-eye ARC that is directly patterned in the substrates. Direct patterning eliminates the need for foreign material making the final product more durable. The ARC is etched directly into the multicrystalline silicone substrates and no additional coatings are deposited on the substrate surface which leaves the final coating with more thermal and radiation stability. Because the ARC is a moth-eye structure the water contact angle on the patterned silicon surface is significantly increased; this allows the solar cells to be self-cleaning. The inexpensive templating nanofabrication technique that creates the subwavelength-structured moth-eye broadband antireflection gratings works faster than standard lithography equipment and is much easier to use. Application: A more durable and efficient antireflective coating for solar panels and a unique low-cost manufacturing device."


1) Reduces reflection of light increasing solar energy input 2) Manufactured using native material making ARCs intrinsically more stable and durable 3) Uses novel nanofabrication techniques increasing conversion efficiency and lowering manufacturing costs

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