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Dual-layer solar cell sets record for efficiently generating power

Materials scientists have developed a highly efficient thin-film solar cell that generates more energy from sunlight than typical solar panels, thanks to its double-layer design. The device is made by spraying a thin layer of perovskite -- an inexpensive compound of lead and iodine that has been shown to be very efficient at capturing energy from sunlight -- onto a commercially available solar cell. The solar cell that forms the bottom layer of the device is made of a compound of copper, indium, gallium and selenide, or CIGS. The team's new cell converts 22.4 percent of the incoming energy from the sun, a record in power conversion efficiency for a perovskite-CIGS tandem solar cell. The performance was confirmed in independent tests at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. (The previous record, set in 2015 by a group at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center, was 10.9 percent.) This device's efficiency rate is similar to that of the poly-silicon solar cells that currently dominate the photovoltaics market. The researchers believe that devices using the two-layer design could eventually approach 30 percent power conversion efficiency, and the technique of spraying on a layer of perovskite could be easily and inexpensively incorporated into existing solar-cell manufacturing processes.

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