New Research


Chemical Approaches for Solar Energy Conversion

New Technologies and Materials for Photovoltaic Applications

Michio Matsumura (Professor), Shigeru Ikeda (Associate Professor) in Research Center for Solar Energ

The development of basic strategic response to our continually dwindling energy resources and to environmental problems that are prevalent on a global scale is one of the most important research themes for today’s science and technology. In order to resolve these issues, we are developing novel processes for fabrication of silicon solar cells and new-type solar cells. In addition, we are developing new class of photocatalyts that can split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The research subjects are as follows:

Texturization of silicon Wafers for Solar Cells: Lowering the surface reflectivity of Si wafers is the key to increase the efficiency of Si solar cells, especially for the system made of multicrystalline silicon. For this purpose, we have invented a new chemical etching method using metal nano-particles as catalyst. The method was proved to be effective to lower the reflectivity and raise the efficiency of solar cells based on multicrystalline silicon. In order to further lower the reflectivity, we are developing a chemical processes which allow the formation of dimples in an ordered manner.

Development of Compound Thin Film Solar Cells: CIGS-thin film solar cells, which are made of copper, indium, gallium and selenium, are attracting much attention as solar cells of next generation. We have started study on manufacturing processes of this type of solar cells by non-vacuum methods. We are also aiming to replace the components, especially, indium and selenium, with more abundant and safe elements.

Organic Thin Film Solar Cells: Organic thin film solar cells are also attractive because of their several advantages, e.g., relatively low costs of materials, simple fabricating processes, light and flexible structures. However, due to their low energy conversion efficiency, there has been no real applications. We have been studying to fabricate efficient organic thin film solar cells composed of polymers, pigments, and various organic complexes.

Photochemical Water Splitting: Photochemical water splitting into hydrogen and oxygen is an ideal system for photon-chemical energy conversion. In order to establish a solar energy conversion system, the development of efficient materials operational under visible light is imperative. Thus, we are synthesizing novel photofunctional materials which absorb visible light and are capable of splitting water.

Matsumura Laboratory
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