Solar cells break efficiency record

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Solar cells break efficiency record

Researchers at the University of Delaware (UD) have developed a solar cell that can convert sunlight to power with 42.8 percent efficiency – a new record.

Following the team's success the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ( DARPA) has authorised an extension to funding so that the team can built the machinery to manufacture the panels on a large scale.

“The achievement of this benchmark is a major step forward in the ongoing development of low-cost solar photovoltaic technology,” Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said.

“Furthermore, we applaud DARPA for making a strategic investment in American's energy security. We anticipate that this project will result in a wide range of commercial solar applications that will benefit the US military and American consumers alike.”

The panel uses a grooved surface that splits light into three bands, depending on how strong it is. The light is then directed to the appropriate sensors on the panel to be converted into electricity.

The team plans to hit 50 percent efficiency soon and by 2010 have a manufacturing facility ready.

DARPA is sponsoring the research because of the increasing use of electronics on the battlefield. It estimates that up to a fifth of the weight individual soldiers have to carry is down to batteries and is seeking to reduce this amount.
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