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Oxford PV To 'turbo Boost' Si Solar Cells With Perovskite

Tandem layer can increase conversion efficiency by 20 percent

Oxford PV has introduced a new application for its thin-film perovskite technology as an add-on to existing silicon solar cells. The breakthrough is said to boost the conversion efficiency of silicon solar cells by 20 percent, the equivalent of a substantial 3 to 5 percent increase in absolute conversion efficiency terms.

"Perovskite has the potential to change the solar industry," said Kevin Arthur, Oxford PV's co-founder and CEO. "Simply put, the material delivers very high performance at a low cost. Applied as a tandem layer, perovskite can have a significant impact by 'turbo boosting' the efficiencies of current mainstream crystalline-silicon products. We're really just scratching the surface now, given the rich potential of this material for a range of solar applications in the longer term."

Oxford PV, which spun out from Oxford University in 2010, has previously concentrated its development efforts on the building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) market. The company's BIPV program focuses on coating glass with perovskite-based materials, which would allow building facades to generate solar power. While its BIPV offering is scheduled to be in production with licensees in 2017, Oxford PV sees more immediate revenue opportunities via the implementation of perovskite material solutions to dramatically improve efficiencies of existing solar panels.

Chris Case, who joined the company as Chief Technology Officer in April 2014, believes that the limits of perovskite's performance for solar power uses have yet to be ascertained. "In two years of R&D, we've gone from a conversion efficiency of 5 percent as a standalone solar cell to above 17 percent - and the data is continuously improving as we try new things," stated Case. "We believe this material can deliver conversion efficiencies in the high twenties in a relatively short period of time. Ultimately, it will drive the performance of solar panels to the next level. Based on progress with customer partners, we expect to see prototype panels available in 2015."

Using a licensing model, Oxford PV is commercialising technology developed by its co-founder, Henry Snaith, who was recently awarded Outstanding Young Investigator of the Year by the Materials Research Society for his pioneering work on perovskite solar cells. He received further commendation by being named as one of Nature Magazine's 10 people who made a difference in science during 2013. "Henry's work in this field is remarkable," added Arthur. "Going from concept to a marketable product in under two years is simply stunning."

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