New Tandem Thin-Film Silicon Solar Cell Efficiency Record Set By PhD Student

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TU DelftA new tandem thin-film silicon solar cell efficiency record was recently set by a PhD student at TU Delft by the name of Hairen Tan.

The new record conversion efficiency of 14.8% was achieved via the use of a variety of “innovative techniques” for which Tan was awarded the Young Research Award at the 6th World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion, held recently in Kyoto.

To be specific, the record was set through the use of amorphous silicon and nanocrystalline silicon absorber layers which were stacked in a way that allowed for the improvement of light spectrum utilization. In addition, Tan also utilized a “modulated surface texture” approach that he developed himself — thereby scattering and absorbing the light more efficiently.

This approach was done via the creation of a “novel surface morphology” of a glass substrate, achieved via etching — or, “nano-scale features of a transparent electrode deposited on the etched glass,” as Tan put it.


Another factor in the achievement of the new record was with regard to the quality of the semiconductor material — according to TU Delft, the amorphous and nanocrystalline silicon layers used were both of “exceptional electronic quality.”

The work was performed in collaboration with the EPFL laboratory in Neuchatel, Switzerland — Tan utilized the research body’s transparent electrodes (thereby minimizing optical losses beyond the absorber layers).

Tan is expecting to eventually achieve a conversion efficiency of 15% with his new approach.

In addition to the above-mentioned record, TU Delft also recently revealed a new quadruple junction solar cell with a conversion efficiency of 11.4%.

Image Credit: TU Delft

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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One thought on “New Tandem Thin-Film Silicon Solar Cell Efficiency Record Set By PhD Student

  • Texturing the surface may also improve the off-axis performance of the cells, which is not captured by the traditional efficiency metric. You need to look at total power generated during the year, allowing for the real distribution of the angles at which sunlight strikes the cells in a fixed array.

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