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NREL reports 31.1 percent efficiency for III-V solar cell
Date:6/25/2013

teiner, John Geisz, Ivn Garca and the III-V multijunction PV group have implemented new approaches providing a substantial improvement over NREL's previous results."

"Historically, scientists have bumped up the performance of multijunction cells by gradually improving the material quality and the internal electrical properties of the junctions -- and by optimizing variables such as the bandgaps and the layer thicknesses," NREL Scientist Myles Steiner said. But internal optics plays an underappreciated role in high-quality cells that use materials from the third and fifth columns of the periodic tables the III-V cells. "The scientific goal of this project is to understand and harness the internal optics," he said.

When an electron-hole pair recombines, a photon can be produced, and if that photon escapes the cell, luminescence is observed that is the mechanism by which light-emitting diodes work. In traditional single-junction gallium-arsenide cells, however, most of the photons are simply absorbed in the cell's substrate and are lost. With a more optimal cell design, the photons can be re-absorbed within the solar cell to create new electron-hole pairs, leading to an increase in voltage and conversion efficiency. In a multijunction cell, the photons can also couple to a lower bandgap junction, generating additional current, a process known as luminescent coupling.

The NREL researchers improved the cell's efficiency by enhancing the photon recycling in the lower, gallium-arsenide junction by using a gold back contact to reflect photons back into the cell, and by allowing a significant fraction of the luminescence from the upper, GaInP junction to couple into the GaAs junction. Both the open-circuit voltage and the short-circuit current were increased.

Silicon solar cells now dominate the world PV market, but researchers see opportunities for new materials. High-efficiency concentrator cells bolstered by lenses that magnify the po
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Contact: David Glickson
david.glickson@nrel.gov
303-275-4097
DOE/National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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