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IBM Sets New Solar Cell Efficiency World Record

It is not the world record for ALL solar cells, but for solar cells using certain cheap and highly available materials, IBM has just set a new world record.

The world record is for solar cells composed of copper, tin, zinc, sulfur, selenium, or similar materials. The new record is about 40% better than the previous best for solar cells using such materials. The efficiency rate of IBM’s new technology is 9.6%. The previous best was 6.7%.

“In a given hour, more energy from sunlight strikes the earth than the entire planet consumes in a year, but solar cells currently contribute less than 0.1 percent of electricity supply…” said Dr. David Mitzi, a lead researcher for IBM. “The quest to develop a solar technology that can compare on a cost per watt basis with the conventional electricity generation… has become a major challenge that our research is moving us closer to overcoming.”

According to IBM, the only other solar cells that can boast an efficiency rate of 9 to 11% are made of extremely costly indium gallium selenide or cadmium telluride.

Although an improvement in solar cell efficiency using any materials is great news, an improvement in efficiency using the most readily available and cheapest materials is an exceptionally useful achievement. Great work by IBM on this one!

I welcome any solar technology experts (or anyone, for that matter) to provide additional information or perspective below.

Related Stories:

1) New World Record in Solar Power Efficiency

2) Solarmer Breaks Plastic Solar Cell Efficiency World Record, Again

3) Sharp Nails a Record 35.8% Solar Conversion Efficiency

Image Credit: Alice Bartlett via flickr under a CC license

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Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.


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