Applied Nanofilms Maximizing Solar Science
by Brian Kirk, Meteorologist/Reporter
September 24, 2013 5:08 PM
While many students are outside savoring the late September sunshine, one small company is trying to use that energy to lower your bills.
Applied Nanofilms is an SDSU based research start-up. The company is trying to incorporate its low cost, large area technology to improve solar cell design and increase efficiency.
Braden Bills, a research director with the company, "A lot of this work started during my Ph. D work at SDSU and then we saw some commercial potential. We applied and we were awarded a small business innovative research award from the National Science Foundation"
Their goal is to make solar energy so affordable that you could wrap your entire house with flexible solar panels. The process creates a layer of film that is so small; it measures in at just 1/900th the thickness of a human hair.
"We want to be able to coat large metal films with our proprietary coating and this will go behind the solar cells and allow it to be more efficient, " Bills said. Applied Nanofilms has earned more than $250,000 in funding, and is potentially a big business for some small scientists. "For me it’s fun to see the big picture of the research from the bench, the market applications, and the processing and manufacturing and the steps in between"
The tests have been conducted, and the reflective materials have proven to work. Bills runs the numbers, "When you equate that to a solar cell performance, it’s about a 10% efficiency improvement, for a single junction solar cell. We expect for a fully functional solar cell to be up to 30%."
With international companies beginning to take notice, Applied Nanofilms looks to revisit the solar solution.