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Tandem perovskite solar cell with record 31.25% efficiency

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Researchers in Switzerland have developed a low cost perovskite-on-silicon tandem solar cell with an efficiency of 31.25%. This is a key figure as silicon cells on their own are around 27% and have a theoretical efficiency limit of 29%.

The team from the Photovoltaics and Thin Film Electronics Laboratory at EPFL and CSEM combined a halide perovskite solar cell with a textured silicon cell to achieve the record efficiency.

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Increasing the power conversion efficiency of solar cells is important for two reasons. In the long run, it is the most effective way to reduce the levelized cost of electricity. In the short term, it is the best way to promote photovoltaics for applications where space is limited such as roofs, facades, vehicles, or even drones.

“We have passed a psychological barrier,” said Christophe Ballif, Head of the EPFL Photovoltaics Laboratory and CSEM’s Sustainable Energy Centre. “We have validated experimentally the high-efficiency potential of perovskite-on-silicon tandems. The 30% efficiency mark had already been achieved with other types of materials, namely III-V semiconductors. However, these materials and the processes used to make them are too expensive to sustain the energy transition – these devices are a thousand times more expensive than silicon solar cells. Our results are the first to show that the 30% barrier can be overcome using low-cost materials and processes, which should open new perspectives for the future of PV.”

The efficiency was independently certified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the US.

The researchers from Neuchâtel developed two kinds of perovskite-on-silicon tandems. Firstly, they adapted materials and fabrication techniques to deposit high-quality perovskite layers from solution on a planarized silicon surface, reaching a power conversion efficiency of 30.93% for a 1 cm2 solar cell.

A new version of a hybrid vapor/solution processing technique compatible with textured silicon surfaces allowed a solar cell with a power conversion efficiency of 31.25% (again on 1 cm2). These results constitute two new world records: one for the planar and one for the textured device architecture.

This latter approach provides a higher current and is compatible with the structure of current industrial silicon solar cells. The previous efficiency conversion record for perovskite-on-silicon tandem solar cells was set in 2021 by a team at the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin, who achieved 29.8%. 

The next stage is to scale up these cells to larger panels.

se high-efficiency results will now require further R&D to allow their scaling up onto larger surface areas and to ensure that these new cells can maintain a stable power output on our rooftops and elsewhere over a standard lifetime,” said Quentin Jeangros of CSEM. 

“Tandem perovskite-on-silicon technologies have been said to have the potential to exceed the 30% efficiency benchmark, but this is the first time this long-predicted potential has been demonstrated, which should hopefully pave the way for even cheaper sustainable electricity in the future,” said Christian Wolff of EPFL.

www.epfl.ch; www.csem.ch

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