47.6% Efficiency – World Record!

Latest Fraunhofer solar cell breaks all records!

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute broke the world efficiency record for solar cells a few days ago.

A value of 47.6% was measured in the laboratory!

In photovoltaics, the efficiency indicates what percentage of the light can be converted into electricity. This value depends on the substances used!

Over 90% of solar cells are made of silicon!

This is not the case with the world record solar cell.

In general, there are more materials here that you would not associate with solar cells at all!

But more on that later!

In principle, all photoactive substances that we currently know have an efficiency of only a maximum of 30%.

We are talking about the Shockely-Queisser limit!

But for research, but also for industry, this is no longer a hurdle due to various technologies!

One that also played a key role in this world record is an additional coating that gives a solar cell a completely unexpected
way supported!

The world record solar cell is a quadruple solar cell made of III-V compound semiconductors.
So there are four photoactive layers of elements from main group III, i.e. earth metals and V (nitrogen-phosphorus group)!

The cell is actually composed of two different two-layer solar cells, so-called tandem cells.
The top one is a compound solar cell made of gallium indium phosphide and aluminum gallium arsenide!
The bottom consists of gallium indium arsenide phosphite and gallium indium arsenide!

The special thing about these substances is that they all have completely different absorption spectra.

The top layer of gallium indium phosphide absorbs short-wave light in the visible spectral range in particular.

The three layers below mainly infrared light!

The secret behind the enormous efficiency of the world record solar cell lies in the connection of several photoactive layers, whereby the efficiencies of the individual levels add up.

But that’s not all!

The solar cell is actually not new!

It was first developed in 2016.

But at that time it did not yet reach this unbelievable efficiency of 47.6%!

A special coating, a so-called anti-reflective coating, now played a key role!

This also consists of four layers.

Annoyingly, a kind of reflection occurs when the sunlight hits the solar cell.
We are talking about the reflection of sunlight.
manufacturers absolutely want to avoid this effect, since the solar cell should not reflect the light but absorb it.
This process generates electricity!

With silicon, anti-reflection coating, if necessary at all, is quite simple, since the cell only transmits light with a wavelength of up to 1200nm can absorb.

This is different with the solar cell from Fraunhofer ISE.

The absorption spectrum is significantly broader due to the different layers.
It ranges from 300 – 1780nm.

In addition to the anti-reflective coating, the contact layers of the solar cells have also been optimized.

But now the but!

Anyone who has been dealing with photovoltaics for a long time knows that the laboratory values, under normal circumstances, are not at all can be reached.
In fact, the world record was measured under 665 times the sun’s concentration!

But how does that fit together with the previously mentioned practicality?

The researchers at Fraunhofer ISE point out that the world record solar cell would be particularly suitable for concentrator technology.

In short: You focus the sunlight from a larger area onto a small area with mirrors or lenses!

In this way, the sun concentration can be scaled up significantly, and so the efficiency and thus the total electricity yield
increase significantly.

It will certainly be a good 10 years before this record-breaking solar cell is really ready for the market.

However, the development of a fully marketable solar cell was not the aim of the researchers!

It could be shown once again that despite wrong decisions by politicians regarding renewable energies in Germany, photovoltaics
is still at the forefront!

In practice, however, the most important role will be played by the pervoskite solar cells.
Not only do they achieve a similar, if not even higher, level of efficiency than common silicon technology Manufacturing prices of an unbelievable €2.70 per square meter possible!

This is due to a new, special manufacturing process that was only recently developed.

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