California-based manufacturer of low-cost solar materials, Innovalight, has achieved record of 19 percent conversion efficiency for its silicon ink-based solar cells.

The conversion efficiency of a solar cell is the proportion of sunlight energy that a cell converts to electrical energy. Although conversion efficiency of greater than 40% has been achieved in the lab using multi-junction solar cells, the the average conversion rate for mass produced cells usually hovers around the 15 percent mark. The trick is to strike a balance between manufacturing costs and efficiency.

Innovalight's impressive record has been independently tested by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Germany.

The silicon ink-based technology is compatible with existing production systems. Innovalight's proprietary Cougar platform gives crystalline silicon solar cell manufacturers the ability to improve solar cell performance, reduce cost and boost output capacity by adding another basic step to already installed manufacturing lines, which this year will process collectively around 4 billion crystalline wafers into solar cells.

“We continue to push toward our goal of delivering over 20 percent conversion efficiency to our customers,” said Dr Homer Antoniadis, chief technology officer at Innovalight. “Our patented solar cell process with silicon ink is simple and optimized for use with silicon wafers and widely adopted industry printing tools,” he added.

Currently, Innovalight is working with several solar cell manufacturing companies and is ramping up silicon ink production.

In February, the company was awarded a key patent by the US patent and trademark office for the manufacturing of crystalline wafer solar cells with silicon ink. Innovalight has filed for over 60 patents for silicon ink and high efficiency solar cells using silicon ink processes.

Dr Antoniadis will present these results at the 2010 SNEC 4th International Photovoltaic Power Generation Exhibition and Conference which will take place this May in China.

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