Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Sep 24

New IMEC Solar Cells: 18.4% Conversion Efficiency

Posted in Energy Industry | Photovoltaic Cells | Solar Power

IMEC Solar Cells IMEC (Interuniversity Microelectronics Center) has presented a large-area solar cell with 18.4% conversion efficiency at the ongoing European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference (Hamburg, Germany). A world leader in its own right, IMEC is an independent research center working on nanoelectronics and nanotechnology. It is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, US, China and Japan.


IMEC’s new solar cell incorporates a shallow emitter and uses copper plating for advanced metalization, compared to the standard i-PERC cell process. When the results were obtained on large-area cells (125cm2), the industrial viability of the process was verified.

According to Dr. Jef Poortmans, IMEC’s Photovoltaics Program Director, “These cells and the new metalization stack involved are a further successful step in IMEC’s target to develop ever more cost-effective, efficient crystalline Si solar cells – eventually targeting cells that are only 40µm thick with efficiencies above 20%.”

The higher conversion efficiency is obtained when the shallow emitter originates an enhanced blue response.

A novel metalization stack is added for the front contacts and this is applied to local openings in the anti-reflective coating. Dr. Joachim John, team manager at IMEC, explains it better, “Using copper instead of silver adds to the sustainability of solar cell production. IMEC was able to do this because it has extensive experience with copper plating on silicon. A similar efficiency result was obtained with screen printed contacts, but the long-term sustainability and low-cost potential of Cu-based contacting solutions and the fact that this was a first result obtained without dedicated fine-tuning makes this result particularly encouraging.”

This has been referenced from the recent IMEC press release.

  • Salem O. Ghoweri

    The newest Spectrolab solar cell, tested a little over a month ago by the U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory just recently set the record of solar energy efficiency at 41.6%.

    http://spacefellowship.com/2009/08/26/boeing-subsidiary-spectrolab-achieves-world-record-solar-cell-efficiency/

  • Bruce Lee Anderson

    This is so exciting! Amazing Solar conversion levels…

  • Betsy Babcock

    We’re thinking about installing solar, but with the huge technology advances in the pipeline… and hopefully lower prices, we’re going to wait a bit.

  • Christopher Clinton

    Keep it going, we’ve got a long way to go…

  • http://solarpowerforhomesonline.com Keith Elliott

    Please note that this is CONCENTRATED solar energy.

    This has been done before, perhaps 30 years ago. Granted the efficiencies weren’t as high, but then technology has advanced a long way since then.

    There is a potential drawback that they have studiously avoided mentioning. This concentration adds heat to the equation, which is detrimental to the panels, potentially shortening their life.

    And you don’t need to wait until something better comes along – get in now. The sooner you start using your own power the better. Price are already very low.

    Remember, you will always be buying PV by the watt, and the efficiency won’t alter what that is. If it’s $2 a watt, it’s $2 a watt regardless of the type of panel.


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