New KAUST tandem solar cell breaks efficiency world record

New KAUST tandem solar cell breaks efficiency world record
A sample of new record-breaking silicon/perovskite tandem solar cells, developed by KAUST
A sample of new record-breaking silicon/perovskite tandem solar cells, developed by KAUST
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A sample of new record-breaking silicon/perovskite tandem solar cells, developed by KAUST
A sample of new record-breaking silicon/perovskite tandem solar cells, developed by KAUST

The dynamic duo of silicon and perovskite continue their rampage through the solar cell industry. Researchers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have developed a new silicon/perovskite tandem solar cell with a record-breaking efficiency.

Most commercial solar cells have traditionally been made with silicon as the active ingredient, and this has gotten the tech into widespread use. But unfortunately, these solar cells are starting to bump up against the physical limits of silicon’s efficiency, so there isn’t much more room left for improvement without radically changing the recipe.

Enter perovskite. This crystalline material has quickly shot up the ranks from under 4% efficiency in 2009 to over 25% by 2021 to rival silicon, and it’s not done yet. When the two materials are forced to work together, they achieve even better results, with efficiencies recently reaching well over 30%.

And now, a new record has been set. Engineers at the KAUST Solar Center have developed a silicon/perovskite tandem solar cell with an efficiency of 33.2%, under regular one-Sun illumination, which is the highest efficiency of any kind of two-junction solar cell. The record has been independently certified by the European Solar Test Installation and added to the Best Research-cell Efficiency Chart managed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

This marks a 0.7% increase over the previous record-holder: a cell with 32.5% efficiency developed by a team at Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin and announced last December. These broken records are coming thick and fast lately – just two years earlier efficiency was yet to crack the 30% barrier.

The KAUST team hasn’t elaborated on exactly what improvements were made to the solar cell to claim the new record. But this kind of incremental advance usually comes from minor tweaks to materials, manufacturing methods, structures and design.

That work is set to continue, as the researchers focus on scaling the cells to industrial sizes of over 240 cm2 (37 sq in).

Source: KAUST

This sort of news excites me also in terms of how it ties in with Space travel and the need to do more with less (weight included). For somewhere like MARS, also, this greater efficiency could counter to some extent the effect of the further distance from the Sun. So if it matures in tandem with current plans for the first MARS mission, then how beautiful would that be!
Scaling to a usable size is one important step. Making sure of a decent lifetime for the cells is another. (For some applications, perovskite-only cells might be cheap enough that it would be worth replacing them every few years, but once you're working with silicon the costs go up.)
I want them. Where can I buy them? I keep seeing all this writing about perovskite cells being so efficient. Where can I buy them? It get's kind of frustrating sometimes. You see all this wonderful stuff about perovskite, but I can't find any for sale. Where are they?
This is great research, but it will be years before you can buy these. The problem with perovskites is durability. They need a lot more R&D to find a formula as durable as silicon.
Perovskite cells aren't quite ready for prime time. They have stability issues and tend to degrade too quickly to be useful in hard-tech applications -- so far. The real question is whether they can engineer these hybrid cells to be inexpensive at industrial production scales AND last at least a decade at 90% or more of the original/peak efficiency. They won't be useful at all (to normal humans) if they cost $10/avg-Watt and drop to half of their peak efficiency in five years.
A good sign of progress. The "last frontier" with many solar cell materials is uniformity over the collection area and the ability to make a uniform cell over large areas. So first question I have is, how big of an area is this cell?
can you imagine when they get to 100%? How large of a panel would we need to power the US?
This is GREAT, but way too premature for any predictions on final costs, expected lifetime and deterioration rates, etc.
I hope it goes into production next week and costs less per watt than standard solar panels.
Solar panels are fusion reactor energy collectors... Much better idea than attempting to produce fusion on earth would be a global energy grid. The sun is always shining somewhere....