Catch the sun

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE have created a multi-junction solar cell that can capture more sunlight energy than conventional solar photovoltaic cells.


Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE have created a multi-junction (MJ) solar cell that can capture more sunlight energy than conventional solar photovoltaic (PV) cells.



The research was undertaken as part of the FULLSPECTRUM project financed by the European Commission. The projects aims to develop technology that will better utilise the potential of solar spectrum for use in sustainable energy projects.



Conventional single semiconductor solar cells are only able to convert photons of energy close to the semiconductor bandgap. This accounts for around 17 per cent of the solar light spectrum.



PV MJ solar cells developed by researchers are said to convert around 39.7 per cent of sunlight into electricity. According to the Fraunhofer Institute, this is the highest percentage ever reached in Europe.



The cells are able to catch more sunlight energy due to their composition of different materials, including gallium, phosphorus, indium and germanium.



The cells have a high production cost, however, researchers at the institute believe that the cost can be significantly reduced by constructing panels that focus light through a lens.



Dr Andreas Bett, department head at Fraunhofer ISE, said: ‘Highest conversion efficiencies help the young technology to become market competitive and to further sink the costs of generating electricity from the sun for the future.’