The cell is an advanced version of the lattice-matched triple-junction technology already in production for space and terrestrial applications at Spectrolab, which pioneered the technology over 10 years ago.
The new cell features several improvements in wafer processing, says the company, to reduce metal grid shadowing and series resistance, increasing the cell’s efficiency for conversion of sunlight to electricity.
And according to Spectrolab, the result has been independently tested by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which validated that it had surpassed the previous record of 41.1% held by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Germany.
Spectrolab’s concentrator cells can produce at least 50% more power than normal silicon ones by using mirrors or lenses to focus the sunlight onto the cell. Fewer cells are required to produce the same amount of electrical output so lower costs can be passed on to end users.
David Lillington, president of Spectrolab said, “this cell is an advanced version of our lattice-matched cell technology that will be incorporated quickly and successfully into our production line. Over the past decade, Spectrolab’s efforts developing terrestrial solar cell efficiency have achieved an average improvement of approximately one percentage point per year, and we expect to continue that pace.”
The Boeing subsidiary says it has supplied space-based solar cells that power 60% of all satellites orbiting the Earth, including the International Space Station. The company predicts an annual capacity of 300 MW in 2010.