Solar power world record broken with ‘miracle material’

Perovskite has been hailed for its potential to transform everything from ultra-high-speed communications to renewable energy production

Anthony Cuthbertson
Thursday 06 October 2022 10:00 BST
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Researchers have passed the 30 per cent efficiency barrier with silicon solar cells for the first time by combining them with the so-called “miracle material” perovskite.

A team from various universities and institutes in the Netherlands made the breakthrough with a tandem solar cell that compliments traditional silicon-based cells – which have an energy conversion efficiency of around 22 per cent – with the widely-acclaimed properties of perovskite.

The researchers said that achieving greater than 30 per cent efficiency with the four-terminal tandem device marked “a big step in accelerating the energy transition” and would improve energy security by reducing fossil fuel dependency.

“This type of solar cell features a highly transparent back contact that allows over 93 per cent of the near infrared light to reach the bottom device,” said Dr Mehrdad Najafi from the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO).

“This performance was achieved by optimizing all layers of the semi-transparent perovskite solar cells using advanced optical and electrical simulations as a guide for the experimental work in the lab.”

Perovskite has been hailed for its potential to transform an array of industries, ranging from ultra-high-speed communications to renewable energy production.

The researchers behind the latest solar cell record now hope to commercialise the technology to achieve a widespread roll-out.

“Now we know the ingredients and are able to control the layers that are needed to reach over 30 per cent efficiency,” said Professor Gianluca Coletti, program manager of Tandem PV.

“Once combined with the scalability expertise and knowledge gathered in the past years to bring material and processes to a large area, we can focus with our industrial partners to bring this technology efficiencies beyond 30 per cent into mass production.”

The results were presented at the World Conference on Photovoltaic Energy Conversion (WCPEC-8) in Milan.

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