A new solar cell research project is set to be carried out by the California Institute of Technology and the Dow Chemical Company, which may result in the development of cheaper semiconductor materials.
One of the lead academics on the study will be applied physicist professor Harry Atwater, who pointed out that one of the goals of the project is to find raw materials for which availability is not a concern.
The $4.2 million (£2.5 million) project hopes to find low-cost alternatives to current direct-bandgap elements, since they are scarce and expensive, which makes them unsuitable for major solar energy technologies.
Dr Atwater explained: "Development of materials that are abundant in the earth's crust will enable solar-energy technologies to ultimately scale to large volumes at low cost."
The research will focus on testing substances to be used with thin-film photovoltaic semiconductors.
This week, Toshiba announced the development of a low-molecular material which supports the production of semiconductors at 20 nm processes and above, according to the EE Herald.