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The Australian National University

SLIVER Technology Research

A bifacial flexible module, capable of absorbing light from both sides.

A 0.1m^2 flexible module, capable of generating over 14W.

SLIVER solar cells are a new type of solar cell with the potential to revolutionise the global solar power industry. They were developed at the Centre for Sustainable Energy Systems with funding assistance from Origin Energy. SLIVER technology uses a revolutionary process to achieve high efficiencies while significantly reducing the amount of expensive silicon in solar cells.  Solar modules made from SLIVERs can be lightweight, flexible and transparent and offer imaginative opportunities for building integration and other applications.  By substantially improving the cost competitiveness of photovoltaics compared to electricity derived from fossil fuels, slivers have the potential to revolutionise the photovoltaics industry and simultaneously address the critical environmental issue of global warming.

A one-square-meter solar panel using SLIVER Cell technology needs the equivalent of two silicon wafers to convert sunlight to 140 watts of power. By comparison, a conventional solar panel needs about 60 silicon wafers to achieve this performance. By dramatically reducing the amount of expensive pure silicon, the largest cost in solar panels today, this new technology represents a major advance in solar power technology. The unique attributes of SLIVER Cell technology could open many new SLIVER Cell applications, in addition to conventional rooftop and off-grid uses, including:

  • Transparent SLIVER Cell panes to replace building windows and cladding
  • Flexible, roll-up solar panels
  • High-voltage solar panels, and
  • Solar powered aircraft, satellite and surveillance systems.

Flexible SLIVER modules

A small module showing the flexibility of all components.

Sliver cells have several properties that make them ideally suited for use in flexible modules. Firstly, because they are fabricated from mono-crystalline silicon they have high and stable efficiencies. In addition, the elongate form factor of the cells means that when connected in series, system voltage can be rapidly built, at a rate of 5 to 10 V/cm2. Hence, battery voltage can be generated in a small area, allowing cells to be incorporated into small portable electronic devices. The dimensions of the cells mean they are naturally flexible, particularly about their long axis, and do not require any post processing for them to be incorporated into flexible modules. The cells are also lightweight, allowing high power to weight ratios to be achieved. Also, because of the non-destructive reverse breakdown properties of Sliver cells, bypass diodes can be avoided, significantly reducing the complexity of the module design.
CSES is developing flexible photovoltaic modules based on SLIVER cells. The performance of these module is over 130 W/m2 with a power to weight ratio of greater than 150 W/kg, a radius of curvature of 5 cm or smaller, and operating temperatures between -40˚C and +65˚C. Modules can be either unifacial or bifacial depending on the desired application.

Modules can be flexed to radii of curvature smaller than 5cm.

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