Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Research Work

The previous entries in this blog has always focused on my personal dilemmas and decisions. I think it is high time, I write an entry that is different from all those. What else can I write? My research work. My friends keep asking me what exactly am I doing with Solar cells. I am tired of repeating the same old answer "It is fine". I think I should give a very precise answer. Keeping in view of the reader's difficulty in understanding the technical lingo, I hope to keep it simple and easy to understand.

My job : To establish a process flow for the fabrication (making) of high efficiency Silicon based solar cells

Silicon solar cells can achieve theoretical efficiencies of 31%, but industrial solar cells are still reeling at the 16 -17% mark. Experimental cells have demonstrated efficiencies up to 24.5%. My job is to make a solar cell that can give an efficiency of 10-16% to begin with.

How to achieve this : My work is based on an experimental solar cell built by Fraunhofer ISE, Germany, called the PERL cell. You can google it to obtain the paper on PERL cells, if you are interested. I am focusing mainly on the optimization of a light trapping scheme titled,texturing(as shown in first image,Image courtesy: on the cell as well as formation of metallic contacts used on the cell.
Where am I now?
Having already fabricated a few prototype solar cells, I am quite well versed with the process flow for an ordinary cell. With this basic premise, I set out to establish the process for PERL cell. Tough and mentally challenging, it needed loads of patience. I have still not reached the tip of the iceberg,
I am on the verge of optimizing the texturing process, and have identified the optimal feature sizes and spacing.Certain technical delays have hampered my progress. A SEM image showing my result is attached herein.
The metal contact process optimization is also at a critical juncture, and am keeping my fingers crossed. Once I am done with both the process optimizations, I would set out to fabricate the replica of a PERL cell at IITB.

I was really running out of ideas for my blog post, and this is the only thing that came to my mind. If you found it dumb and a waste of time, my apologies. If I was able to explain my work at least a couple of readers, I would be happy. I would be happier if anyone wants to ask any queries regarding the same. I would be happiest, if some get fascinated by this work and takes up research as a career. Looking forward to your comments and guidance.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Welcome 2010

Wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New year :)

The previous year was all turmoil and trauma. Lost my job, four months of dilemma, death of my cousin. It had it all. There were moments of joy too, but the losses were irrevocable. 2010, brings with it lot of hope. The yearning for a better year, hoping that 2009 would be the worst year in my life (I sincerely do hope!!!).

I wish to dedicate this post to listing out the few highlights of last year.
  • Jan 1,2009 --Stuck in my flat in Bangalore. Spend the day reading,The Hungry Tide. It was the most boring new year I had.
  • Jan 15,2009 -- Patent application filed with Siemens.
  • Feb 5,2009 -- Termination of Employment at Siemens.
  • Feb - May -- Distraught and Busy with job hunting. Gave the ISRO test.
  • May 14,2009--Interview at IIT Bombay for Research Fellowship Scheme.
  • June 16,2009-- Joined IITB as a Junior Research Fellow.
  • June 26,2009--Death of a prominent member of the family
  • June 29,2009--ISRO interview, didn't clear it though
  • July - Oct --At work. Moments of joy as well as misfired experiments Gave DRDO exam.
  • Oct 13,2009--Death of my Cousin in a car crash.
  • Nov 12,2009--Interview at ARAI, got the job.
  • Nov - Dec --The real transition, declined the offer on Dec 22,2009 and continuing at IIT.
I intend to use this post as a reference data for comparison. Hoping for a better 2010, with no major debacles.