Researchers claim new efficiency record for solar cell technology


A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) claim their solar cells made using perovskite and organic materials have achieved a power conversion efficiency of 23.6%, approaching that of conventional silicon solar PV cells.

Dr Chen Wei, Research Fellow at the NUS Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, said the achievement is a “significant leap” from the current power conversion rate of about 20% reported by other studies on perovskite/organic tandem solar cells.

“In our latest work, we have demonstrated a power conversion efficiency of 23.6%,” he said. “This is the best performance for this type of solar cell to date.”

Wei said the latest result is approaching the power conversion rate of 26.7% of conventional silicon solar cells, which is the dominating technology in the current solar PV market.

Although perovskite/organic tandem solar cell technology is attractive for next-generation thin-film PV, its efficiency lags behind other types of tandem solar cells featuring stacks of two or more absorber layers.

To address this technological challenge, the NUS research team, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Hong Kong and Southern University of Science and Technology in China, developed an interconnecting layer (ICL) that reduces voltage, optical and electrical losses within the tandem solar cell.

In a paper published in Nature Energy, the research team revealed that the ICL is based on a 4-nanometre-thick sputtered indium zinc oxide layer inserted between organic bathocuproine and molybdenum oxide with enhanced electrical properties and transmittance in the near-infrared region.

Wei said the technology had delivered a maximum efficiency of 23.60% (22.95% certified) in the perovskite/organic tandem solar cell. In addition, the tandem device retained 90% initial efficiency after 500 hours of maximum power point tracking under continuous illumination.

Lead researcher Professor Hou Yi said the technological breakthrough opens the door to thin-film tandem solar cells that are light and flexible.

“Our study shows the great potential of perovskite-based tandem solar cells for future commercial application of photovoltaic technology,” he said. “Building on our new discovery, we hope to further improve the performance of our tandem solar cells and scale up this technology.”

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