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Posted: March 30, 2010
Imec and partners start work on EU project PRIMA to improve solar cell efficiency through nanostructures
(Nanowerk News) Imec announces that it has started work, together with its project partners, on PRIMA, a project under the EU's 7th
framework program for ICT (FP7). The project's goal is to improve the
efficiency and cost of solar cells though the use of metallic
nanostructures. Next to imec, the project coordinator, the partners involved
in PRIMA are Imperial College (London, UK), Chalmers University of
Technology (Sweden), Photovoltech (Belgium), Quantasol (UK) and Australian
National University (Australia).
Certain nanostructured metallic surfaces show unique characteristics: they
can absorb and intensify light at specific wavelengths. This is because the
incoming light results in a collective oscillation of the electrons at the
metal's surface. This phenomenon, studied under the name plasmonics, has
many promising applications. It can be exploited to transmit optical signals
through nanosized interconnects on chips, in nanoparticles that recognize
and interact with biomolecules, or in solar cells.
With solar cells, metallic nanostructures can boost the absorption of light
into the cell's photoactive material. And with an enhanced light absorption,
it is possible to produce cells with less base material, thus thinner and
cheaper cells. Metal nanostructures can improve the absorption in various
types of cells, for example crystalline Si cells, cells based on
high-performance III-V semiconductors, or organic and dye-sensitized solar
The aim of the FP7 project PRIMA is twofold. First, the project wants to
gain insight into the physical mechanisms of metallic nanostructures, and in
how they can improve the light absorption of the solar cell's material.
Second, the project's partners want to study how these structures can best
be integrated into the production of solar cells. For this, they will test a
number of structures, benchmarking them against state-of-the-art solar
cells. The performance and applicability of these cells will then be
assessed by solar cell companies that are participating in the project.
European science traditionally is a leader in both the fields of
photovoltaics and plasmonics and this project helps to maintain Europe's
strong position. Moreover it provides the participating industrial partners
with a competitive advantage, which should create employment and sustainable
economic growth in Europe, while simultaneously contributing to a reduction
of the emission of greenhouse gases.
Imec performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics. Imec leverages its
scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in
ICT, healthcare and energy. Imec delivers industry-relevant technology
solutions. In a unique high-tech environment, its international top talent
is committed to providing the building blocks for a better life in a
Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the
Netherlands, Taiwan, US, China and Japan. Its staff of more than 1,750
people includes over 550 industrial residents and guest researchers. In
2008, imec's revenue (P&L) was 270 million euro.