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2024. 05. 30 -

Physicist M. Rudzikas, who gives colours to solar panels, becomes a PhD

Dr. Matas Rudzikas. Photo: FTMC
We have another talented PhD! He is Matas Rudzikas, a physicist at the FTMC Department of Physical Technologies. His topic is "Investigation of Optical and Electrical Characteristics in Photovoltaic Devices Colored by the Functional Metal Oxide Coatings" (academic supervisor: Dr. Arūnas Šetkus).
Congratulations to our colleague, keep going!
Matas is working on an interesting and relevant topic - colouring silicon (and other) solar cells. He does this by using coatings of different materials. What is the need for this? According to the physicist, solar cells are increasingly being used on buildings today - and there is a need to make this useful "decoration" aesthetically pleasing. On the other hand, it is very important not to "damage" the cell by giving it the desired colour and to maintain the efficiency of the device. This is where the work begins.
"Most solar modules are built in fields as power stations to produce as much energy as possible. But gradually, the use is shifting to other applications - in cars, on the roofs and walls of houses, to bring the electricity closer to the consumer. In addition, the amount of land available for solar cells is shrinking and land prices are rising. But there is plenty of space available on buildings.
I was also motivated to do this work by the fact that the current commercial colouring solutions available are quite limited and few in number," says FTMC physicist.
(Photo: FTMC)
He adds that there has to be a trade-off when it comes to colouring a solar cell: while the usual black colour is more receptive to sunlight, other colours reflect it – more or less - therefore some energy is lost:
"Partly for this reason, I didn't do very many layers when designing functional coatings. The more layers, the more vibrant the colour - but the more energy loss. Moreover, this kind of integrated photovoltaics is technologically more expensive. So I don't think it pays to build solar modules that are very nice-looking but inefficient."
For his research, M. Rudzikas used special coatings made of various chemical compounds - indium tin oxide, titanium oxide, aluminium oxide, zinc oxide and others. Most of all, our researcher is pleased that his thesis has enabled him to optimise the Bragg reflector - an optical device for solar cells - and to realise it using low-cost sol-gel technology. It should be pointed out that the resulting solar modules have a colour brightness that is about 2-3 times higher compared to conventional commercial solutions.
(Photo: FTMC)
"We are further developing this technology. The goal is to commercialise it, but there are still many challenges ahead. However, 20x20 cm samples have already been produced. The very first ones we managed were 5x5 cm, so it has been scaled up and we have shown that it can be realised.
We believe that this is the most promising technology because of its more flexible colour parameters, which can be more easily manipulated when conditions change," says the new PhD.
FTMC information
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