A team of researchers at the Australian National University have set a world record for their work on tandem solar cells, which are said to dramatically increase the efficiency of a cell’s ability to produce electricity.
The team has said that layering a variety of solar cells atop the other allows them to maximise the potential for energy production, and will be both commercially viable and commonplace in the industry within the next few years.
According to a report from Renew Economy’s Michael Mazengarb, “the research, led by a team at the ANU in Canberra stated with a conventional silicon solar cell, which is commonly used in most solar panels currently available on the market. On top of the silicon wafer, the researchers successfully layered a perovskite solar cell, which is produced using organic and inorganic materials, rather than silicon wafers, to convert sunlight into electricity.”
The researchers say that the two different materials are able to absorb two different types of sunlight due to their ability to utilise different parts of the light spectrum. It’s said that most of the solar cells currently on the market work at a conversion efficiency of around 20%, and with the advent of stacking these cells, the team at ANU have recorded a conversion efficiency of 27.7%, and are aiming to hit the 30% target.
ANU Professor, Kylie Catchpole said that “silicon solar cells currently dominate the market, however the efficiency of silicon solar cells is going to reach the limit in the next five to 10 years.”
“This result demonstrates the potential of tandem solar cells. They can make better use of certain parts of the solar spectrum- for example, high energy blue photons. This will lead to more efficient and more cost-effective solar cells and solar energy sources,” Catchpole concluded.
The team says that their work has the potential to transform the solar cell industry across the globe.
Lead researcher on the project, Dr The Duong said that “the International Technology Roadmap for Photovoltaics predicts tandem solar cells will appear in mass production in 2023, so we’re very close.”
“This new efficiency result will help to improve the commercial competitiveness of this technology. It’s exciting to think that the new technology has the potential to benefit the entire planet is being developed here in Canberra,” Dr Duong concluded.