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Perovskite Silicon Tandem Jumps To 29.15 Percent Efficiency

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Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin team achieve new record for monolithic tandem solar cells

Bernd Stannowski from the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin (HZB) Institute PVcomB and Steve Albrecht, who heads a Helmholtz Young Investigator Group (YIG) at HZB have developed a tandem solar cell made of stacked silicon and perovskite that achieves a record efficiency of 29.15 percent - significantly higher than each individual cell on its own.

The higher combined efficiency is because silicon converts mostly red sunlight wavelengths into electricity while perovskite compounds primarily utilise the blue wavelengths.Stannowski and Albrecht have already jointly set new records for monolithic tandem solar cells on several occasions. At the end of 2018, the team presented a tandem solar cell made of silicon with a metal-halide perovskite that achieved an efficiency of 25.5 per cent. Then Oxford Photovoltaics Ltd announced a value of 28 per cent.

The 29.15 percent efficiency record was certified by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) on Friday, Jan. 24th and now appears in the charts of the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), USA. The NREL chart has been tracking the rising efficiency levels for nearly all types of solar cell since 1976. Perovskite compounds have only been included since 2013 - and the efficiency of this class of material has increased more than in any other material since then.

"We developed a special electrode contact layer for this cell in collaboration with the group of Prof. Vytautas Getautis (Kaunas University of Technology), and also improved intermediate layers", explain Eike Köhnen and Amran Al-Ashouri, doctoral students in Albrecht's group. The new electrode contact layer also permitted improvement of the perovskite compound's composition in the HZB HySPRINT laboratory. This compound is now more stable when illuminated in the tandem solar cell and improves the balance of electrical currents contributed by the top and bottom cells. The silicon bottom cell comes from Stannowski's group and features a special silicon-oxide top layer for optically coupling the top and bottom cells.

All processes used to realise this one-square-centimetre cell are also suitable in principle for large surface areas. Scaling up with the help of vacuum deposition processes is very promising, as initial tests have already shown.

The realistic practical efficiency limit for tandem cells made of silicon and perovskite is about 35 per cent. Next, the HZB team wants to break the 30 per cent efficiency barrier. Albrecht explains that initial ideas for this are already under discussion.

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