A new conversion efficiency record of 20.4% has been set for thin-film solar cells by researchers at Empa and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology.
The new record of 20.4% is a big improvement over the previous record achieved by this team (18.7%) in May 2011.
The new flexible solar cells are based on state-of-the-art CIGS technology. CIGS is a semiconducting material composed of: copper, indium, gallium, and (di)selenide. CIGS is known for its potential to generate very cost-effective solar power, but has yet to used or produced on a truly commercial scale.
Besides a high conversion efficiency, CIGS solar cells have the significant advantage of containing much lower levels of the toxic metal cadmium, and of the rare metal tellurium.
The improved efficiency was obtained by “modifying the properties of the CIGS layer, grown at low temperatures, which absorbs light and contributes to the photo-current in solar cells.”
The improved efficiency is making thin-film solar modules even more attractive as a form of power supply. Their best quality, though, is still their potential to be produced using “continuous roll-to-roll manufacturing processes” that will go a long way to cut down on manufacturing costs and lead to low-cost solar cells.
Image Credits: EMPA
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