Nav: Home

High-efficiency concentrator solar cells and modules

May 20, 2010

Climate change and ever scarcer fossil resources will determine the energy mix of the future. Solar energy will play an integral role in this regard. Dr. Andreas Bett and Dr. Frank Dimroth of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg developed metamorphic triple-junction solar cell consisting of III-V compound semiconductors: gallium indium phosphide, gallium indium arsenide and germanium. This special structure makes it possible to optimize the use of almost the entire solar spectrum for energy production. Researchers have been able to transform more sunlight into power than ever before, at a record degree of efficiency of 41.1 percent. In recognition of their work, they are receiving the 2010 Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize.

This high degree of efficiency is made possible by stacking multiple top-quality solar cells on top of each other. „Our triple solar cell consists of more than 20 individual layers, all of which we have optimized," says Dr. Frank Dimroth. „We have improved both the structure of the semiconductor as well as the material quality, the metal contacts and the antireflection coatings, in order to arrive at this result." Originally, these compound solar cells were engineered for use in space - most satellites in space are loaded with them. They supply the operating power. Since the production process is comparatively expensive, these cells had not been used on earth before. The combination of highly efficient cells with a lens amplifier ensures that - in comparison to conventional solar modules - only one five-hundredth of the semiconductor surface will be needed. The cells within their own specially designed concentrator modules measure only three square millimeters in size. A Fresnel lens is situated over these mini solar cells, at a distance of approximately ten centimeters. This configuration concentrates the sunlight by a factor of 400 to 500. To prevent the cells from overheating, they are attached to a copper support that distributes the heat sufficiently well. Thus, passive cooling of the solar cells suffices. „Thanks to this construction, we were able to produce modules with a degree of efficiency in excess of 29 percent," says Dr. Andreas Bett. These modules have been on the market since 2007 under the brand name FLATCON®, and are being used in a solar park in Spain, for example.

To facilitate the swift transfer of technology from the laboratory to industry, a demonstration laboratory was constructed at the institute, with the same machines that would be used in industry. Here, researchers are developing and testing production processes for the construction and connection technology, module integration and quality control. A spin-off of ISE - Concentrix Solar GmbH - produces the concentrator systems that, for example, feed solar power into the grid from a solar park in Spain with 25 percent system efficiency. For the development of metamorphic triple-junction solar cells, the team has been closely collaborating for years with AZUR Space Solar Power in Heilbronn, the leading European manufacturer of solar cells for space. This partner is aiming to bring the highly efficient solar cells to the market by 2011.
-end-


Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Related Solar Cells Articles:

Solar cells more efficient thanks to new material standing on edge
Researchers from Lund University in Sweden and from Fudan University in China have successfully designed a new structural organization using the promising solar cell material perovskite.
Printable solar cells just got a little closer
A University of Toronto Engineering innovation could make printing solar cells as easy and inexpensive as printing a newspaper.
A big nano boost for solar cells
Solar cells convert light into electricity. While the sun is one source of light, the burning of natural resources like oil and natural gas can also be harnessed.
Game changer for organic solar cells
Researchers develop a simple processing technique that could cut the cost of organic photovoltaics and wearable electronics.
Physics, photosynthesis and solar cells
A University of California, Riverside assistant professor has combined photosynthesis and physics to make a key discovery that could help make solar cells more efficient.
Throwing new light on printed organic solar cells
Researchers at the University of Surrey have achieved record power conversion efficiencies for large area organic solar cells.
A new way to image solar cells in 3-D
Berkeley Lab scientists have developed a way to use optical microscopy to map thin-film solar cells in 3-D as they absorb photons.
Toward 'greener,' inexpensive solar cells
Solar panels are proliferating across the globe to help reduce the world's dependency on fossil fuels.
A new technique opens up advanced solar cells
Using a novel spectroscopic technique, EPFL scientists have made a much-needed breakthrough in cutting-edge photovoltaics.
OU physicists developing new systems for next generation solar cells
University of Oklahoma physicists are developing novel technologies with the potential to impact utility-scale energy generation, increase global energy capacity and reduce dependence on fossil fuels by producing a new generation of high efficiency solar cells.

Related Solar Cells Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...