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KAUST team sets record for tandem solar cell


Perovskite/silicon tandem solar cell has a power conversion efficiency of 33.2 percent

Researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have produced a perovskite/silicon tandem solar cell with a power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 33.2 percent

This is believed to be the highest tandem device efficiency in the world to date, surpassing that of Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin’s (HZB) record at 32.5 percent PCE.

The tandem device was certified by the European Solar Test Installation (ESTI) and listed at the top of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL), Best Research-cell Efficiency Chart (above).

Led by Stefaan De Wolf, professor of material science and engineering and interim associate director of the KAUST Solar Center, the team has been working on perovskite/silicon tandem cells since 2016. It includes Esma Ugur, who specialises in optical spectroscopy and the analysis and visualisation of cell defects; Erkan Aydin, an expert in the scalability and stability of ultra-efficient tandem solar cells; and Thomas Allen, who focuses on c-Si bottom cell development.

The resulting tandem solar cell combines perovskite top cells on industrially compatible, two-sided textured silicon bottom cells. The perovskite top layer absorbs blue light best, while the silicon foundation absorbs red light best. The combination of these materials maximises the capture and conversion of sunlight into electricity more efficiently than the conventional single-junction silicon analogues.

”This new record is the highest PCE of any two-junction solar cell under non-concentrated light, attesting the tremendous promise of perovskite/silicon tandems to deliver ultra-high performance photovoltaic modules, which is critical to rapidly achieve renewable energy goals towards combatting climate change,” De Wolf said.

The team is currently exploring scalable methods to produce industrial-scale perovskite/silicon tandem cells with areas exceeding 240 square centimetres, as well as strategies to obtain highly stable tandem devices that will pass the critical industrial stability protocols.

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