Fraunhofer ISE takes back the world record: 21.9 % multicrystalline

Multicrystalline world record solar cell made of n-type HPM silicon material (Photo: Fraunhofer ISE)
Multicrystalline world record solar cell made of n-type HPM silicon material (Photo: Fraunhofer ISE)

In all the commotion about falling module prices, the subject of cell efficiency is sometimes overlooked. Fraunhofer ISE, which is based in Freiburg, has put the topic back in the spotlight by announcing a new world record for efficiency with multicrystalline cells: 21.9 %.

The new record was measured using a 2x2 cm laboratory cell. According to the researchers, the cell has a very good antireflective coating, so the grain boundaries of the silicon material are barely visible. The appearance is almost completely black. The multicrystalline n-type high-performance silicon (HPM) that they used has a higher tolerance to important contaminants than the p-type commonly used in industry. This is particularly true for iron. Fraunhofer ISE's new approach for materials and technology has the potential to further improve the efficiency of cells and modules in the near future.

"We are very happy with this excellent result, which is due largely to the fact that Fraunhofer ISE’s expertise runs along the entire value chain of silicon photovoltaics," Institute Director Andreas Bett said. "At the Institute, our expertise spans the entire range from the crystallisation of silicon through to the quality assurance of PV power plants. The research areas of material development, characterisation and cell technology all played a part in the development of the world record cell." The various research groups at Fraunhofer ISE consulted continuously, optimising the material and the cell process in tandem. Dr Stephan Riepe, head of the group Silicon -Crystallization and Epitaxy, explains the procedure as follows: "In our Silicon Material Technology Center SIMTEC, we adjusted the crystallisation process with the goal of creating a material optimised for the planned solar cell processing procedure. We worked closely and in constant exchange with our colleagues until we all achieved our common target of world record efficiency."

Nevertheless, research will continue because the multiTOP project, under which the record result was achieved, will run until March next year. It is being funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy BMWi.

Ralf Ossenbrink/Fraunhofer ISE


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