NREL Sets Thin Film Record

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have moved closer to creating a thin-film solar cell that can compete with the efficiency of the more common silicon-based solar cell. The copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film solar cell recently reached 19.9 percent efficiency in testing at the lab, setting a new world record.

Multicrystalline silicon-based solar cells have shown efficiencies as high as 20.3 percent. The energy conversion efficiency of a solar cell is the percentage of sunlight converted by the cell into electricity. Researchers were able to set this new thin-film record because of improvements in the quality of the material applied during the manufacturing process which boosts the power output from the cell, according to NREL.

“This is an important milestone,” said NREL Senior Scientist Miguel Contreras. “The thin film people have always looked for matching silicon in performance, and we are reaching that goal.”

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