Dual-Layer Solar Cell Sets Record for Efficiently Generating Power


A solar cell developed by UCLA Engineering researchers converts 22.4 percent of incoming energy from the sun, a record for this type of cell.

Materials scientists from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering have developed a highly efficient thin-film solar cell that generates more energy from sunlight than typical solar panels, thanks to its double-layer design.

The device is made by spraying a thin layer of perovskite — an inexpensive compound of lead and iodine that has been shown to be very efficient at capturing energy from sunlight — onto a commercially available solar cell. The solar cell that forms the bottom layer of the device is made of a compound of copper, indium, gallium and selenide, or CIGS.

The team’s new cell converts 22.4 percent of the incoming energy from the sun, a record in power conversion efficiency for a perovskite–CIGS tandem solar cell. The performance was confirmed in independent tests at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (The previous record, set in 2015 by a group at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, was 10.9 percent.) The UCLA device’s efficiency rate is similar to that of the poly-silicon solar cells that currently dominate the photovoltaics market.

The research, which was published today in Science, was led by Yang Yang, UCLA’s Carol and Lawrence E. Tannas Jr. Professor of Materials Science.

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Image via Oszie Tarula, UCLA