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Research hints at cheaper, more efficient photovoltaics

new_generation_of_solar_cells_mediumResearchers in Luxembourg have created a new and highly efficient  solar cell that could lead to much cheaper next-generation solar energy.

Made from compound semiconductors, the thin-film photovoltaics developed at the University of Luxembourg convert sunlight into electricity at an efficient rate of 12 per cent. Thin-film solar cells promise to improve solar-energy technology as they require less material and energy to produce.

The researchers at Luxembourg created their solar cell based on a semiconductor made of copper, indium, gallium and selenium (CIGS). The also developed another photovoltaic that doesn’t contain costly indium and can be made with a low-cost galvanic process. That solar cell has so far achieved an efficiency of 3.2 per cent, which is close to the world record of 3.4 per cent for similar photovoltaics made using such a process.

The laboratory for photovoltaics was founded in April 2007 within the framework of the TDK Europe professorship, a public-private partnership funded by TDK corporation and the University of Luxembourg.

“We have just a few months ago moved into our new labs,” said Susanne Siebentritt, head of the laboratory for photovoltaics at the university. “This allows us finally to start the solar cell preparation. These are really our first solar cells and they have already reached competitive efficiencies. I am very proud of my team.”

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