2/10/2012

Semprius Set a New Efficiency Record for Solar Panels

Semprius, a startup out of North Carolina that prides themselves on developing low cost, high performance concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules, has announced that it has made the world's most efficient solar panel.


The company's  has developed miniscule solar cells capable of capturing concentrated sunlight without costly cooling systems.  Designed for Commercial use, the solar panels use tiny solar cells made of gallium arsenide– the record breaking solar module contains hundreds of these cells, each about the width of a line drawn by a ball-point pen, arranged under lenses that concentrate sunlight 1,100 times.  Gallium arsenide is far better at absorbing sunlight than silicon, the material used in most solar cells, but too is more expensive.  Although concentrated solar modules use less semiconducting material, they usually require expensive optics, cooling systems, and tracking systems to keep them aimed at the sun.  Sempriu's microscaled solar cells are inherently much better at dissipating heat, making them cheaper.




the other advantage of the Semprius module is that, where a silicon cell only efficiently absorbs a narrow band of sunlight, the solar cells in this module are made of three layers of gallium arsenide, each modified to convert a different part of the solar spectrum into electricity.  testing of the module has marked the first time any solar module has been able to convert more than one-third of the sunlight that falls on it into electricity, 33.9%.  Conventional panels typically convert less than 15% of light into electricity.