UPDATE (January 3, 12:40 EST): I contacted Solar3D to get more clarity on what exactly achieved this 25.47%. Here’s Solar3D CEO Jim Nelson’s response: “The test is on a design–it is an analytical test, not a test on a developed prototype.”
Solar 3D brings silicon solar cell efficiency record up to 25.47%, but no independent tests have been conducted yet.
Solar records are set several times a year these days, and quickly dropping solar power costs are good testament to that. In the past year, First Solar set a cadmium-telluride (CdTe) solar photovoltaic (PV) cell efficiency world record, Q-Cells set a thin-film solar module efficiency record, SCHOTT Solar set a conversion efficiency world record, and I imagine other records were set as well.
Now, to start off 2012, Solar3D claims that it has set a new silicon solar cell efficiency record, with an efficiency of 25.47%. The previous record was 25%, achieved by researchers at the University of New South Wales in 2008.
Solar3D’s 3-D solar cell design is projected to “dramatically change the economics of solar energy,” according to the company, of course. As Andrew reported back in September:
“The solar cell’s three-dimensional design traps sunlight ‘inside micro-photovoltaic (PV) structures, where photons bounce around until they are converted into electrons,’ the company explains. The 3-D structure significantly reduces electron loss, which hinders 2-D solar cells’ conversion efficiencies. The idea for the design was inspired by light management techniques used in fiber optic devices.”
New Silicon Solar Cell Efficiency Record
As the company projected back in September, its newly completed technology is super efficient. “Our recent tests involve a larger design that contains multiple micro 3D photovoltaic structures that will make up a complete Solar3D cell. The results have exceeded our expectations,” said Jim Nelson, President and CEO of Solar3D. “If the results of the simulations hold up in fabrication, as we expect, our cell’s performance will be the highest conversion efficiency achieved in silicon solar cells.”
Going on: “Our objective has always been to change the world by providing affordable solar power. At this level of conversion efficiency and expected manufacturing cost, we intend to do just that.”
Let’s hope they really can, and do.
Solar3D isn’t actually done creating its prototype yet. It completed the design several weeks ago and is nearing completion of the prototype. Next, “management will seek a fabrication partner, most likely in the semiconductor industry, who will participate in bringing the product to market,” a news release that went out today noted.
Note that these 3D solar cells are not the same thing as the 3D solar structures MIT researchers are working on.
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