Swift Solar is a Silicon Valley startup that aims to revolutionize Solar technology by making Solar panels that are very lightweight, economical and efficient. Instead of using wafer-based solar panel technology, they are developing thin-film based solar technology using a new type of semiconductor called perovskite, which will speed up the efficiency game in the solar competition.
Common solar panels installed in homes are chip-based panels covered in a glass frame that are up to 20 percent efficient. At the same time, single-junction solar technology can reach 33%, but this makes manufacturing costs high in older wafer-based systems. Single-junction solar panels fail to absorb the full spectrum of the sun, wasting a lot of useful photon spectrum. That's something that doesn't happen with perovskite solar panels.
Perovskite is a new type of semiconductor that does not require a specific material, but can be formed from any material with the molecular formula ABX3 crystal structure. It is found as perovskite oxide, but Swift Solar makes a mixture of perovskite that combines organic and inorganic salts.
Swift Solar, which makes thin-film based Solar panels, has reduced the amount of material used to produce Solar panels by 10-1,000 times. They are very thin and lightweight, allowing multiple films to be mounted on each other to absorb the maximum spectrum, thus improving the efficiency of solar systems.
The process of combining several thin perovskite films together is called tandem, and it improves the efficiency of solar panels by 40 to more than 46 percent. SwiftSolar claims that by installing more and more perovskite methods, the efficiency could be increased to 86%, but that would make it very expensive, which is why today they are limited to 40% to 46% efficiency.
Compared with silicon-based solar panels, perovskite uses just 1% of the material to make panels. Silicon crystallization requires temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius. At the same time, perovskite is ready at 100 degrees Celsius, which makes manufacturing products cheaper and more efficient by 10-25%. Swift Solar's products are so light that they can be painted on buildings or mounted on cars.
Swift Solar is not yet ready to commercialize its perovskite Solar technology because it requires a lot of engineering detail to compete with different temperatures, weather conditions and longevity. However, the prospect opens the door to a future of the Internet of things by providing power at low manufacturing costs, ease of installation and efficiency.