Produce Simple Solar Cells In The Microwave

University of Utah metallurgists were able to create solar cell material using cheap and less toxic materials.

Emma Hutchings
Emma Hutchings on May 9, 2013.

University of Utah metallurgists have produced a nanocrystal semiconductor with a few cheap, eco-friendly ingredients and an old microwave. The microwaved semiconductor is known as CZTS (made out of copper, zinc, tin and sulfur).

Michael Free, a professor of metallurgical engineering, and research associate Prashant Sarswat, are publishing their study of CZTS in the June 1st issue of the Journal of Crystal Growth.

Producing Solar Cells In An Old Microwave

In the study, they determined that the optimum time required to produce the most uniform crystals of the CZTS semiconductor was 18 minutes in the microwave. Compared with photovoltaic semiconductors that use highly toxic cadmium and arsenic, ingredients for CZTS are more environmentally friendly, lower cost and more available.

The metallurgists are continuing to pursue applications and improvements, and hope that the semiconductor will be used for more efficient photovoltaic solar cells and LED lights, biological sensors and systems to convert waste heat into electricity.

University of Utah