New world-record efficiency for thin-film silicon solar cells

February 14, 2013

Record efficiency for thin-film PV solar cells (credit: PVLab/EPFL)

EPFL’s Institute of Microengineering has reached a remarkable 10.7% efficiency for a single-junction microcrystalline silicon solar cell, surpassing the previous world record of 10.1% held by the Japanese company Kaneka Corporation since 1998.

The efficiency increase was also achieved with with only 1.8 microns of photovoltaic active material — 100 times less material than with standard wafer-based crystalline silicon PV technology.

The new thin-film silicon technology can be scaled up to module (panel) production, enabling prices as low as 35 €/m2 ($47/m2), reaching the price level of standard roof tiles, according to the EPFL scientists.

Thin-film silicon technology indeed offers the advantages of saving up on raw material and offering low energy payback time, thus allowing module production prices as low as 35 €/m2 ($47/m2), reaching the price level of standard roof tiles.

Work leading to this result was supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), the EU-FP7 program, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), and the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI).