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Solar cell efficiency milestone achieved

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A new solar cell configuration developed by engineers at the University of New South Wales has pushed sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiency to 34.5% – establishing a new world record for unfocussed sunlight and nudging closer to the theoretical limits for such a device.

The record was set by Dr Mark Keevers and Professor Martin Green, Senior Research Fellow and Director, respectively, of UNSW’s Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics, using a 28 cm2 four-junction mini-module – embedded in a prism – that extracts the maximum energy from sunlight. It does this by splitting the incoming rays into four bands, using a hybrid four-junction receiver to squeeze even more electricity from each beam of sunlight.

The new UNSW result, confirmed by the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is almost 44% better than the previous record – made by Alta Devices of the USA, which reached 24% efficiency, but over a larger surface area of 800-cm2.

“This encouraging result shows that there are still advances to come in photovoltaics research to make solar cells even more efficient,” said Keevers. “Extracting more energy from every beam of sunlight is critical to reducing the cost of electricity generated by solar cells as it lowers the investment needed, and delivering payback faster.”

The result was obtained by the same UNSW team that set a world...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.