Scientists seek solar solutions

Dr Volker Sittinger, from the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Technology (left) and Professor Arutiun Ehiasarian, founder of Sheffield Hallam's High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering Technology Centre, with the equipment used to find ways of cutting the cost of making solar cells, whilst boosting their efficiency
Dr Volker Sittinger, from the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Technology (left) and Professor Arutiun Ehiasarian, founder of Sheffield Hallam's High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering Technology Centre, with the equipment used to find ways of cutting the cost of making solar cells, whilst boosting their efficiency
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Scientists from Sheffield Hallam University and the world renowned Fraunhofer Institute are joining forces to cut the cost of making solar cells, whilst boosting their efficiency.

The research involves the Sheffield-based High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering (HIPIMS) Technology Centre, launched last year by Hallam and the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Technology, which is based in Braunschweig, Germany

The Centre, founded by Dr Arutiun Ehiasarian, who was recently named a Hallam University professor, is using its technology to study ways of reducing consumption of expensive raw metals and energy by depositing the layers of photovoltaic material that make up solar cells at lower temperatures.

Professor Ehiasarian said: “The HIPIMS technology can produce an absorber layer which is better at converting light into electrical charges and result in solar cells with much higher efficiency.

“This system is unique and the beginning of a new technology which will produce higher efficiency solar cells using fewer raw materials, less energy and at a lower cost.”

The research recently brought Dr Volker Sittinger, from the Fraunhofer IST to Sheffield to spend a week investigating how the unique Sheffield Hallam technology could optimise the coating structure for solar cells.

“It has been great to welcome Volker to Sheffield Hallam to strengthen the relationship we have developed over the past year,” said Prof Ehiasarian

Professor Mike Smith, Pro Vice Chancellor for research and development at Sheffield Hallam, said: “Our HIPIMS centre is spearheading Sheffield Hallam’s reputation for collaborative international research. Volker’s visit is an important milestone on our journey to develop innovative new methods of improving the efficiency of renewable energy sources and contribute to the battle against global warming.”