Sweden-based Sol Voltaics has announced that it has doubled the previous world record for photovoltaic (PV) conversion efficiency using a gallium-arsenide (GaAs) nanowire array (NWA).
The company’s 1-sun conversion efficiency of 15.3% in a GaAs NWA solar cell was reportedly verified by an independent source, Fraunhofer-ISE, the largest solar research institute in Europe (with a staff of about 1,300).
“The efficiency of our GaAs nanowires is a critical component of our low-cost film. The use of III-V materials in the PV industry has always been a goal but the costs have been prohibitive. Using Sol Voltaic’s Aerotaxy® nanowire production methodology allows our III-V film to be produced at competitive cost at efficiencies that are industry changing,” explained Erik Smith, CEO. “We look forward to working with industrial partners on the integration of our technology on to Si cells so they may make the leap to 27% efficiency and beyond.”
These kinds of milestones are important because they move the needle towards a future when solar power is everywhere, providing the human race with clean, renewable energy, instead of relying on harmful fossil fuels.
Sol Voltaics has a video here that gives you an idea of how they enhance solar cell surfaces with their nanotechnology to increase efficiency.
Increasing to 27% efficiency would be quite a leap, at least in solar cell terms.
In 1959, the first commercially available solar cells with 10% efficiency were made available. Today, the rate of technology improvement seems to be much faster, most likely due to the fact our computing resources are relatively vast.
The nanowires are sort of like antennae that are embedded into a film so that they can absorb sunlight and generate electricity.
Sol Voltaics makes nanomaterials and nanowire material to enhance solar panel products. The company was founded in 2008. In 2013, it collected a $6 million conditional loan from the Swedish Energy Agency.
Image Credit: Sol Voltaic