Sharp develops solar cell with world’s highest conversion efficiency

November 4, 2011
Structure of Triple-Junction Compound Solar Cell

Sharp Corporation has achieved the world’s highest solar cell conversion efficiency of 36.9% using a triple-junction compound solar cell in which the solar cell has a stacked three-layer structure.

Compound utilize photo-absorption layers made from compounds consisting of two or more elements, such as indium and gallium. Because of their high conversion efficiency, compound solar cells have been used primarily on space satellites.

Wavelength Distribution of Solar Photo-Energy and Wavelength Sensitivity of Triple-Junction Compound Solar Cell

Since 2000, has been pursuing research and development of a triple-junction compound solar cell that achieves high conversion efficiency by stacking three photo-absorption layers. In 2009, Sharp succeeded in improving cell conversion efficiency to 35.8% based on proprietary technology that enabled efficient fabrication of a stacked triple-layer structure with InGaAs (indium gallium arsenide) as the bottom layer.

This latest increase in conversion efficiency was achieved by improving the maximum power output of the solar cell by reducing the resistance of the junction areas necessary to connect the solar cell layers in series.

Sharp achieved this latest breakthrough as a result of a research and development initiative promoted by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)*3 on the theme of “R&D on Innovative Solar Cells.” Measurement of the value of 36.9%, which sets a new record for the world’s highest non-concentrating conversion efficiency, was confirmed at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

In the future, processes for transferring ultra-thin photovoltaic layers onto film substrates will make lightweight, flexible solar cells possible. Sharp’s goal in the years to come is to take full advantage of this latest development success for use in concentrator-type solar cells, as well as for practical applications such as on space satellites and for flight craft and land vehicles.

Explore further: Sharp Develops Mass-Production Technology for Triple-Junction Thin-Film Solar Cells

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Physicists develop new technique to fathom 'smart' materials

November 26, 2015

Physicists from the FOM Foundation and Leiden University have found a way to better understand the properties of manmade 'smart' materials. Their method reveals how stacked layers in such a material work together to bring ...

Mathematicians identify limits to heat flow at the nanoscale

November 24, 2015

How much heat can two bodies exchange without touching? For over a century, scientists have been able to answer this question for virtually any pair of objects in the macroscopic world, from the rate at which a campfire can ...

New sensor sends electronic signal when estrogen is detected

November 24, 2015

Estrogen is a tiny molecule, but it can have big effects on humans and other animals. Estrogen is one of the main hormones that regulates the female reproductive system - it can be monitored to track human fertility and is ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.3 / 5 (4) Nov 04, 2011
Bull! Fraunhofer, Germany is accredited with a 41.2% efficient triple-layer PV-cell presented in the beginning of this year.
5 / 5 (4) Nov 04, 2011
yoatmon: read more carefully "worlds highest non-concentrating conversion efficiency" -- non-concentrating --
"Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE have achieved a record efficiency of 41.1% for the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Sunlight is concentrated by a factor of 454 and focused onto a small 5 mm² multi-junction solar cell made out of GaInP/GaInAs/ Ge (gallium indium phosphide, gallium indium arsenide on a germanium substrate)."
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 04, 2011
For those experiencing "Post-Purchase Dissidence", your existing solar investment is not obsolete, since new research must go thru production before distribution occurs.

Further, higher efficiencies may fail sooner during utility black outs, when grid-tied solar panels must be disconnected. Without energy storage or load switching, solar cells bake at highest potential voltages, testing design limits.

Get your grid-tied system switchable to other loads during black outs. Having blackout power available is better than an extra percentage point of cell efficiency.

Roger R. Owner/Operator
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 04, 2011
NEDO is yet another Socialist Japanese government initiative to improve Japanese industry through improving the world.

I commend them.
1 / 5 (2) Nov 05, 2011
I want to move to japan, they are intelligent, but i hate them for the whaling though..

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.