Researchers at IBM have increased the efficiency of a novel type of solar cell produced largely from cheap and abundant materials by more than 40%. According to an article published this week in the magazine Advanced Materials, the new efficiency is 9.6%, up from the previous record of 6.7% for these types of solar cells, and close to the level needed for commercial solar panels. IBM solar cells also have the advantage of being made with a low-cost ink process.
The new solar cells convert light into electricity using a semiconductor material of copper, zinc, tin and sulfur - all of them abundant elements -, in addition to selenium (CZTS), a relatively rare element. Achieving near-commercial efficiency levels is a "breakthrough for this technology," says Matthew Beard, a scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, who was not involved in the work.
Source: Nanotechnology Now