A subsidiary of aerospace giant Boeing has developed a solar cell that can operate at over 40 percent efficiency, smashing the previous record for sunlight to power conversion.
The new cells use a specially developed semiconductor material that improves efficiency and simplifies design. The company is now examining how to bring production costs down and ramp up manufacturing.
"This solar cell performance is the highest efficiency level any photovoltaic device has ever achieved," said Dr. David Lillington, president of Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab.
"The terrestrial cell we have developed uses the same technology base as our space-based cells. So, once qualified, they can be manufactured in very high volumes with minimal impact to production flow."
The US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory has verified the cell's efficiency.
A 33-kilowatt test system is already up and running in the Australian desert and more large-scale trials are planned soon. The cells will also be used on the next generation of satellites.
Solar cell revolution boosts efficiency to 40 percent
By Iain Thomson on Dec 8, 2006 9:43AM