Conventionally solar panels are made using expensive materials such as indium and gallium, which can produce a stream of electrons as sunlight hits the surface. Researchers at the Oregon State University are now trying to make solar cells from readily available materials, using just a microwave oven. This innovative approach will help reduce the cost of solar cells, while ensuring an easy manufacturing process that can be scaled up to commercial levels.
Unlike solar cells that rely on crystalline silicon to create the photovoltaic effect, the team’s thin film solar cells include materials such as a copper, zinc, tin, and sulfur, helping reduce the cost of solar energy. To speed up the reaction between the materials and making all the materials bond into a working solar cell, the team has proposed the use of microwave heating by replacing the process where traditional ovens are used. The approach not only helps save money, but could also be easily commercialized. Moreover, microwave heating would offer precise control over the heat and energy in an order to achieve the desired results.