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Clean Power "Flexible thin film CIGS solar cell on polymer substrate developed at Empa." (Credit: Copyright: Empa)

Published on June 1st, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan


New Flexible Solar Cell on Plastic Efficiency Record

"Flexible thin film CIGS solar cell on polymer substrate developed at Empa." (Credit: Copyright: Empa)

Solar records are broken left and right. We can’t cover them all, of course, but try to cover the big ones. Recently, researchers ar Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, set a pretty big one. They increased the solar cell efficiency record of flexible solar cells made of copper indium gallium (di)selenide (aka CIGS) from 17.6% to 18.7%, a pretty significant increase. (Note: This is the same team that set the 17.6% efficiency record in June 2010).

What does this mean?

Well, by increasing efficiency of solar cells made with “cheap” and light materials and manufactured in a “cheap” way, solar power become cheaper and more people use it. This advance by Empa moves us further along on that front. Here’s that in a little more detail on this specific technological improvement from lead researcher Ayodhya N. Tiwari:

“The new record value for flexible CIGS solar cells of 18.7% nearly closes the ‘efficiency gap’ to solar cells based on polycrystalline silicon (Si) wafers or CIGS thin film cells on glass… flexible and lightweight CIGS solar cells with efficiencies comparable to the ‘best-in-class’ will have excellent potential to bring about a paradigm shift and to enable low-cost solar electricity in the near future.”

Furthermore, CIGS solar cells can be manufactured in a relatively low-cost way (compared to Si) and “such lightweight and flexible solar modules offer additional cost benefits in terms of transportation, installation, structural frames for the modules etc.”

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, Germany independently verified the new record.

Read more here: Record Efficiency of 18.7 Percent for Flexible Solar Cells on Plastics, Swiss Researchers Report.

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Image & caption via Science Daily

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

  • Jean Mapplebeck

     All better for the out come of solar power . Every one will benifit

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