Physicists at Boston College have developed a nano-scale solar cell, inspired by the coaxial cable, which offers greater efficiency than any previously designed nanotech thin film solar cell

A limiting factor in making highly efficient thin film sollar cells is the need for the cells to be thick enough to collect a sufficient amount of light, yet thin enough to extract current. The Boston College researchers have found a way to resolve this challenge using a coaxial design for cells constructed with amorphous, rather than crystalline, silicon

The researchers say that the nanocoax cells yield power conversion efficiency in excess of 8 percent, which is higher than any nanostructured thin film solar cell to date.

"Many groups around the world are working on nanowire-type solar cells, most using crystalline semiconductors," said Michael Naughton, a professor of physics at Boston College. "This nanocoax cell architecture, on the other hand, does not require crystalline materials, and therefore offers promise for lower-cost solar power with ultrathin absorbers. With continued optimization, efficiencies beyond anything achieved in conventional planar architectures may be possible, while using smaller quantities of less costly material."