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Japanese Solar Cell on Verge of Reaching Theoretical 29% Efficiency

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As homeowners’ main worry about using solar power is price, the main area that can be worked on for a better solar power industry is efficiency.

Normally, a silicon based solar panel (monocrystalline or polycrystalline) has a theoretical limit of efficiency at 29 percent. Yet, this number was never achieved until Kaneka Corporation, a Japanese chemical manufacturer, came. This company was able to produce solar cells that are 26.3 percent efficient. Also, this solar cell will be commercially available, which is a huge step for the solar power industry.

‘Nature Energy’ magazine published the researchers’ paper that summarized the result. This result has also been recognized by the National Renewable Energy Lab. In the paper, the researchers described a 180.4 cm2 thin film cell. Thus, they coated the layer with silican and an anti-reflective layer to help the cell receive and absorb photons more easily. At the end of the research, the Kaneka researchers came to the conclusion that the efficiency could reach 29 percent with optimization.

Due to resistive loss, optical loss, and extrinsic recombination loss, there has been an overall of  2.7 percent loss in the solar cells. Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) was used while making the solar cell. The PECVD deposits thin films that are in solid state into a gaseous state. This process helps create a high efficiency in solar cells.

Authors still note that although this might be a research, if the cells that are produced can be assembled to be a solar panel, it can be available commercially. Yet, producing a solar panel with the same efficiency still requires a lot of work and more funding as it was funded by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).

[via arstechnica]

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