German solar energy researchers have developed a new type of multicrystalline photovoltaic (PV) cell with a record efficiency of 21.9 percent.
The new solar cell consists of n-type high performance multicrystalline silicon, Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Fraunhofer ISE) said in a press release posted on its official website.
The industrial production today uses multicrystalline p-type silicon material with average solar cell efficiencies of about 19 percent.
Compared to p-type silicon, this material shows a higher tolerance to impurities, especially iron.
The cell also has excellent antireflection properties, appearing almost black with almost no detectable grain boundaries.
"We are very happy about this excellent result, which is due largely to the fact that Fraunhofer ISE's expertise runs along the entire value chain of silicon photovoltaics," Institute Director Andreas Bett said.
"At the Institute, our expertise spans the entire range from the crystallization of silicon through to the quality assurance of PV power plants. The research areas of material development, characterization and cell technology all played a part in the development of the world record cell,"he added.
The work of the ambitious researchers at Fraunhofer ISE, however, continues further, according to the press release. The "multiTOP" project, in which the record cell was achieved, continues to run up to March 2018.
"Our goal is to develop an advanced cell technology for the n-type multicrystalline wafer that really demonstrates its full potential. The question is, how far can we get to closing the efficiency gap to monocrystalline material," Dr. Jan Benick, head of the project, said.
Efficiency is a very important parameter for solar cell performance, referring to the portion of energy in the form of sunlight that can be converted via photovoltaics into electricity.
In July 2016, Chinese PV manufacturer Trina Solar announced that it had achieved 20.16 percent efficiency for its industrially-produced multi-crystalline silicon "PERC" cells technology.