Solar

UCLA researchers are working on more efficient solar systems.

Researchers at UCLA have set a record for efficiency with a new kind of solar cell. It’s the type of research that could ultimately make its way to roofing materials.

According to ScienceDaily, researchers made the new cell by spraying a layer of perovskite—which is made of lead and iodine—on a commercially-available solar cell. The new cell set a record by converting 24.4 percent of incoming energy from the sun into electricity. That was a record.

ScienceDaily reports:

The research, which was published today in Science, was led by Yang Yang, UCLA’s Carol and Lawrence E. Tannas Jr. Professor of Materials Science.

“With our tandem solar cell design, we’re drawing energy from two distinct parts of the solar spectrum over the same device area,” Yang said. “This increases the amount of energy generated from sunlight compared to the CIGS layer alone.”

Yang added that the technique of spraying on a layer of perovskite could be easily and inexpensively incorporated into existing solar-cell manufacturing processes.

Inverse calls the development an important one for the developing solar industry.

The site reports:

Instead of 18.7 percent, these new cells were able to capture 22.4 percent of the sunlight’s energy, an increase of around 20 percent. The team hopes to continue refining the cells and getting efficiency up to 30 percent.

Tactics that can increase solar energy efficiency are hugely important to the renewable energy transition, the maximum theoretical efficiency for the most common kind of photovoltaic cell is only 29 percent. As we wrote in a previous story, “sunlight’s bouncing around, getting absorbed as waste heat, and just generally not being converted into electricity.”

Yang and his research group have been working on solar cells for several years, according to UCLA, and they have already developed transparent tandem solar cells that could be used in windows, greatly increasing the potential for energy production.