The February 2023 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Can HelioVolt Challenge First Solar?

HelioVolt has devised a thin-film manufacturing technology that saves on time and energy while controlling better for solar absorption

7 min read
Photo: HelioVolt
Photo: HelioVolt

Crystalline silicon dominates today’s photovoltaic (PV) industry, with panels being installed at high rates on rooftops and as solar farms. But the fast expansion of the silicon PV market has driven up the costs of materials in recent years, and manufacturing and installation procedures are inherently inefficient and expensive. Because of such limits, it’s been taken for granted in the industry that silicon will be but a passing phase and that wide adoption of solar electricity will depend on the development of thin-film PV materials, which are cheaper to make and apply.

Lately, it’s First Solar that has captured most of the headlines in second-generation PV, with a cadmium telluride thin film that the company says it can make for less than a dollar per watt. Because of First Solar’s breakthrough and other promising developments in both organic and inorganic PV materials, thin films could account for 31 percent of the solar market by 2013, double the 2008 share, according to the analysis firm iSuppli Corp., in El Segundo, Calif.

Keep reading...Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Video Friday: ReachBot

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

Robotics Summit & Expo: 10–11 May 2023, BOSTON
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON
RoboCup 2023: 4–10 July 2023, BORDEAUX, FRANCE
RSS 2023: 10–14 July 2023, DAEGU, KOREA
IEEE RO-MAN 2023: 28–31 August 2023, BUSAN, KOREA
CLAWAR 2023: 2–4 October 2023, FLORIANOPOLIS, BRAZIL

Enjoy today’s videos!

Keep Reading ↓Show less

Forecasting the Ice Loss of Greenland’s Glaciers With Viscoelastic Modeling

Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany are developing new models to simulate how glaciers behave

8 min read
Aerial view of Nioghalvfjerdsbræ showing the extensive patterns of the crevasses

This sponsored article is brought to you by COMSOL.

To someone standing near a glacier, it may seem as stable and permanent as anything on Earth can be. However, Earth’s great ice sheets are always moving and evolving. In recent decades, this ceaseless motion has accelerated. In fact, ice in polar regions is proving to be not just mobile, but alarmingly mortal.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":["32356952","32356923","32356954"]}