During her talk, "Silicon Photovoltaics: Materials, Manufacturing and Market," Kurinec discussed RIT's research and development in this area, specifically about the field of silicon photovoltaics, and detailed current market research about different solar cells and their efficiencies, how manufacturability is improving, and the scale of applications around the world.
Solar energy was the second largest source of new electrical-energy capacity in
"Normally when people work in a research lab, they work in small scales, one cell, few cells, but the scales are incredibly huge," she said, adding that solar cells are being mass- produced because of innovations in manufacturing processes and increasingly companies, as well as residential customers, are using the technology.
During the panel discussion, participants asked Kurinec about bottlenecks in getting solar technologies to users, how can investing in solar technologies be encouraged, and what other improvements are on the horizon in solar cell development.
"As the cost of polysilicon, the baseline material used in silicon photovoltaics, has declined substantially in recent years, it opens up opportunities to make cell structures more advanced by learning from the semiconductor chip industry," she added.
At RIT, Kurinec and the faculty-researchers in the microelectronic engineering department, part of the university's
"The challenges in integrating copper are similar, however, with different requirements, to those encountered by the chip industry back in the '90s when aluminum was degrading the performance due to its relatively lower conductivity and vulnerability to electro-migration. Introduction of copper, having higher conductivity and resistant to electro-migration, was enabled through innovative developments of diffusion barriers, deposition and planarization techniques. For solar cells, copper diffusion posed challenges as it degrades minority carrier lifetime in silicon. Photovoltaic community can learn from the way chip industry developed copper diffusion barriers," Kurinec explained.
It was the first time Kurinec participated in the event. She was part of a three-person panel on energy and the environment that included professors from universities in
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