Soitec has broken the world record for PV cells once again. On Monday (Dec. 1) the company announced that its newest champion PV cell was able to convert fully 46 percent of the sun’s energy into electricity, surpassing its previously held world record of 44.7 percent.
"We are very proud of this new world record. It confirms we made the right technology choice when we decided to develop this four-junction solar cell, and clearly indicates that we can demonstrate a 50 percent efficiency in the near future,” Jocelyne Wasselin, vice president of Solar Cell Product Development for Soitec. "To produce this new generation of solar cells, we have already installed a line in France. It uses our bonding and layer-transfer technologies and already employs more than 25 engineers and technicians.”
The new device is a four-junction solar cell, which allows it to absorb more of the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity. “Each of the device’s sub-cells convert precisely one quarter of the incoming photons in the wavelengths between 300 and 1750 nm into electricity,” Soitec said. The company explained that the composition and thickness of each layer of the cell was tightly controlled allowing each to capture a quarter of the total energy in the spectrum captured by the cell.
The new device was developed by Soitec, CEA-Leti, France, and Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. The news comes slightly more than a year after the group set the previous world record.
"This is a major milestone for our French-German collaboration. We are extremely pleased to hear that our result of 46 percent efficiency has now been independently confirmed by AIST in Japan", explains Dr. Frank Dimroth, project manager for the cell development at the German Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. "CPV is the most efficient solar technology today and suitable for all countries with high direct normal irradiance."
The multi-junction cells Soitec makes aren’t the type of PV cell in most common PV devices. Rather they’re used in concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) systems, which focus sunlight on tiny PV cells made out of more efficient, but also more expensive semiconductors than those used in most silicon solar cells and solar panels.
The new world record cell is designed work with a Fresnel lens, an inexpensive technology that can concentrate the sun’s power by hundreds of times. The new champion cell produced the results a concentration of 508 suns. The results were confirmed by the Japanese AIST (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology).Tweet