Sunovia, EPIR spark 45% jump in II-VI CdTe output

Researchers from Sunovia and EPIR Technologies say they have made single-junction and two-junction cadmium telluride (CdTe)-based solar cells with highest-ever open circuit voltages, beating previous marks by 45% — roughly translating, all things equal, to a corresponding increase in power output.

September 24, 2009 – Researchers from Sunovia and EPIR Technologies say they have made single-junction and two-junction cadmium telluride (CdTe)-based solar cells with highest-ever open circuit voltages, beating previous marks by 45% — roughly translating, all things equal, to a corresponding increase in power output.

The CdTe-based (II-VI) solar cells achieved open circuit voltages (Voc) of 1.34V in a single-junction configuration, >95% of the theoretical upper limit for the II-Vi alloy used, they say, compared with previous CdTe Voc of 0.91V, or ~76% of the max. A two-junction configuration reached Voc of 1.75V.

“There is no data in the literature that comes close to what we have achieved, and we believe that our two-junction device also represents the first ever high efficiency monolithic, two-junction solar cell using CdTe or any other II-VI material,” proclaimed Michael Carmody, senior director for development of photovoltaic materials at EPIR Technologies, in a statement. The two-junction II-VI cell is expected to exceed 35% production efficiency at “a small fraction” of the cost of three-junction III-V cells; a triple-junction II-VI cell is expected to have even higher efficiency “without much added cost,” he said.

The two firms are currently working to complete 100MW of initial production capacity at their expanded pilot production facilities, with a cell manufacturing process that “requires substantially less space than competing solar technologies, and is scalable at a fraction of the previous cost,” partly helped by using a silicon substrate.

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