Saturday, November 07, 2009

Sharp achieves world's highest solar cell conversion efficiency


Sharp Corporation has announced that its triple-junction compound solar cell has broken the efficiency record for non-concentrator solar cells at the research level. The conversion efficiency record of 35.8% was confirmed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST, one of the organisations around the world that officially certifies energy conversion efficiency measurements in solar cells) in September 2009.

Sharp was able to boost efficiency of the 1 square centimetre solar cell by improving the crystallinity (the regularity of the atomic arrangement) in each of the three photo-absorption layers.

Conventionally, Ge (germanium) is used as the bottom layer due to its ease of manufacturing. However, in terms of performance, although Ge generates a large amount of current, the majority of the current is wasted, without being used effectively for electrical energy. The key to solving this problem was to form the bottom layer from InGaAs (indium gallium arsenide), a material with high light utilization efficiency. However, the process to make high-quality InGaAs with high crystallinity was difficult.

Nevertheless, Sharp succeeded in forming an InGaAs layer with high crystallinity by using its proprietary technology for forming layers. As a result, the amount of wasted current has been minimized, and the conversion efficiency, which had been 31.5% in Sharp’s previous cells, has been successfully increased to 35.8%.


















Sharp achieved this breakthrough as part of a research and development initiative promoted by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) on the theme of “R&D on Innovative Solar Cells”.

In light of these results, Sharp plans to “continue its efforts towaBased on these results, Sharp will continue its efforts toward even greater improvements in solar cell conversion efficiency.

History of Sharp Compound Solar Cell Development

1967 Development begins of solar cells for space applications using single-crystal silicon.

1976 Launch of operational Japanese satellite, "Ume," equipped with Sharp solar cells for space applications (single-crystal silicon solar cell).


2000 Research and development begin on triple-junction compound solar cell to further improve efficiency, reduce weight, and increase durability of solar cells for space applications.

2001 Participation in research and development on NEDO's photovoltaic power generation themes.


2002 Triple-junction compound solar cell gains certification from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).


2003 Conversion efficiency of 31.5% is achieved (at the research level) for triple-junction compound solar cell.


2004 Launch of small scientific satellite, "Reimei," equipped with Sharp triple-junction compound solar cells.


2007 Conversion efficiency of 40.0% achieved (at the research level) for a triple-junction compound solar cell (concentrator type, at 1,100 times concentrated sunlight).


2009 Launch of Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT), "Ibuki", equipped with Sharp triple-junction compound solar cells.


2009 Conversion efficiency of 35.8% is achieved (at the research level) for a triplejunction compound solar cell based on research and development efforts that are part of NEDO's "R&D on Innovative Solar Cells" program.

(1) As of October 22, 2009, for non-concentrator solar cells at the research level (based on Sharp survey).


(2) Conversion efficiency confirmed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST; one of the organizations around the world that officially certifies energy conversion efficiency measurements in solar cells) in September 2009. (Cell surface: approx. 1 cm2)


(3) The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) is Japan's public management organization for promoting research and development as well as for disseminating industrial, energy, and environmental technologies.

About Sharp

Sharp Corporation (TSE: 6753) is a worldwide developer of innovative products and core technologies that play a key role in shaping the future of electronics. As a leader in liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and digital technologies, Sharp offers one of the broadest and most advanced lines of consumer electronics, information products and electronic components, while also creating new network businesses. For more information, please visit www.sharp.co.jp .










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