The potential of photovoltaics (PV) has not yet been exhausted. Both industry and research continue to work intensively on increasing the efficiency and reducing the costs of solar cells, the basic component of every PV power plant. Now researchers at Fraunhofer ISE have produced a multicrystalline silicon solar cell with 21.9 percent efficiency, successfully bringing the world record back to Freiburg. Higher efficiencies and optimized processing steps are decisive for decreasing the cost of solar electricity even further. Both of these are an integral part of the photovoltaic research at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems.
With its newest efficiency value, the Freiburg researchers have once again broken a world record: A multicrystalline silicon solar cell converts 21.9 percent of the incident sunlight into electricity. As in the years from 2004 to 2015, Fraunhofer ISE again holds the world’s record for multicrystalline silicon. The record solar cell consists of n-type high performance multicrystalline silicon, or HP mc-Si. Compared to p-type silicon, this material shows a higher tolerance to impurities, especially iron. The industrial production today uses multicrystalline p-type silicon material with average solar cell efficiencies of about 19 percent. The new material and technology approaches applied by Fraunhofer ISE for the record cell have the potential to improve the efficiency of multicrystalline silicon even further in the near future.