Back in black: record efficiency for black-silicon solar cell

Figure courtesy of [1]

Figure courtesy of [1]

Crystalline silicon solar cells have been around for a long time, and their blue sheen now shines anywhere from residential homes to airport rooftops. Their design and manufacturing methods have matured greatly since their first appearance in 1954 such that most experts do not envision more dramatic improvements to their current efficiency levels around 20-25%.

This puts the pressure on new photovoltaic designs to reach similar efficiency levels with lower manufacturing costs in order to push the price of solar energy closer to parity with fossil fuels. A collaboration between scientists in Finland and Spain has taken a great step in this direction by developing a method to construct a black silicon solar cell with record 22.1% efficiency (1).  This darker, strongly light-absorbing cousin of the crystalline solar cell should be cheaper to manufacture and is now efficient enough to possibly compete commercially.


Learn more about the physics behind this record efficiency at my Eyes on Environment blog on Nature’s Scitable Network!



Savin H, Repo P, von Gastrow G, Ortega P, Calle E, Garín M, & Alcubilla R (2015). Black silicon solar cells with interdigitated back-contacts achieve 22.1% efficiency. Nature nanotechnology PMID: 25984832

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