Material scientists from UCLA have discovered how to improve solar panels made of the compound “CIGS” i.e. Copper Indium Gallium and Selenide.
It turns out that painting another compound – “perovskite” over top of the them, increases conversion efficiency from 18.7% to 22.4%. Scientists from the Solar Frontier Corps Atsugi Research Center in Japan also contributed to the study
Similar to the recently minted silicon-Perovskite panel, this new trend of bi-layer design allows each device to absorb even more slivers of the electromagnetic spectrum – improving overall light conversion efficiency by a little under 4% in this case.
The study was published in Science
“With our tandem solar cell design, we’re drawing energy from two distinct parts of the solar spectrum over the same device area,” Yang said. “This increases the amount of energy generated from sunlight compared to the CIGS layer alone.”
Another nanoscale layer connects the two compounds together well enough to produce a higher voltage, which actually increases the amount of exportable power. Graphene panels and super cool liquid crystal solar cells employ a similar intermediary step to ferry energy back and forth between their two constituent layers.
The panel also sits on a glass substrate 2 millimeters thick.
“Our technology boosted the existing CIGS solar cell performance by nearly 20 percent from its original performance,” Yang said. “That means a 20 percent reduction in energy costs.”
Conversion efficiency isn’t everything of course. What makes this new addition particularly appealing is that it can be inexpensively incorporated by existing manufacturers.