Spectrolab has set a new solar cell efficiency record of 38.8 percent for a ground-based multi-junction solar cell. The new world record doesn't exactly smash the previous mark of 37.8 percent, which was also set by Spectrolab, but is welcome news in a field where every percentage point counts.
Although efficiencies of over 44 percent have been achieved with concentrator triple-junction compound solar cells that use a lens-based system to concentrate sunlight onto them, the 38.8 percent efficiency figure was verified by the US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory as being a new world record for a ground-based solar cell without the use of concentrated sunlight.
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Spectrolab, a subsidiary of Boeing and part of the Boeing Defense, Space & Security defense and aerospace unit, is best known for supplying solar cells and panels for use in spacecraft and satellites. Multi-junction solar cells contain several different semiconductor materials and Boeing says the new semiconductor bonding technology used to create the 38.8 percent efficiency solar cell could be used to power high-power spacecraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.