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One of the problems associated with testing a new unproven photovoltaic material or cell design is that significant processing required in order to create a fully functioning solar cell. If it is desired to screen a wide range of materials or synthetic conditions it can be time consuming (and costly of research funds) to prepare fully functioning devices. In addition, the success of each individual cell may be more dependent on fabrication steps not associated with the variations under study. For example, lithography and metallization could cause more variability than the parameters of the materials synthesis. Thus, the result could be to give no useful information as to the viability of each material under study, or even worse a false indication of research direction.

So-called quick and dirty qualitative measurements can be employed to assess not only the relative photoresponse of new absorber layer materials, but also the relative power output of photovoltaic devices. The measurement procedure can provide a simple, inexpensive and rapid evaluation of cell materials and structures that can help guide the development of new materials for solar cell applications.

Equipment needs

Everything needed for the measurements can be purchased at a local electronics store and a hardware or big box store. Needed items are:

  • Two handheld digital voltmeter with at least ±0.01 mV sensitivity (0.001 mV is better, of course).
  • A simple breadboard and associated wiring kit.
  • A selection of standard size and wattage resistors ( 1 / 8 - 1 Watt, 1 - 1000 ohms).
  • A selection of wire wound potentiometers (0 - 10 ohms; 0 - 100 ohms; 0 - 1000 ohms) if I-V tracing is desired.
  • A light source. This can be anything from a simple flood light to an old slide projector.
  • A small fan or other cooling device for “steady state” (i.e., for measurements that last more than a few seconds such as tracing an I-V curve).
  • 9 volt battery and holder or simple ac/dc low voltage power supply.

Measurement of the photo-response of an experimental solar cell

A qualitative measurement of a solar cell’s current-voltage (I-V) characteristics can be obtained using the simple circuit diagram illustrated in [link] . [link] shows an I-V test setup using a household flood lamp for the light source. A small fan sits to the right just out of the picture.

Simple circuit diagram for I-V measurement of a prototype solar cell.
Simple test apparatus for qualitative measurement of the current-voltage output from an experimental thin film solar cell.

Driving the potentiometer to its maximum value will place the cell close to open circuit operation, depending on the potentiometer range, so that the open circuit voltage can be simply extrapolated from the I versus V curve. If desired, the circuit can simply be opened to make the actual measurement once the rest of the data have been recorded. Data in this case were simply recorded by hand and later entered into a spreadsheet so an I-V plot could be generated. A sample plot is shown in [link] . Keep in mind that cell efficiency cannot be determined with this technique unless the light source has been calibrated and color corrected to match terrestrial sunlight. The fact that the experimental device actually generated net power was the result sought. The shape of the curve and the very low voltage are the result of very large resistive losses in the device along with a very “leaky” junction.

Questions & Answers

What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Berger describes sociologists as concerned with
Mueller Reply
advantages of NAA
Sai Reply
how I can reaction of mercury?
Sham Reply

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