News Picks : Panasonic sets new record for solar cell efficiency
MIT Technology Review: At the IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in Denver, Colorado, Panasonic revealed a new solar cell that beat a 20-year-old record for efficiency. Although the improvement is small—the new cell can convert 25.6% of the Sun’s energy into electricity compared with the previous record of 25%—it can significantly affect the solar panels’ power generation. Panasonic achieved the increase in efficiency by adding a silicon film to both sides of its silicon wafers, which reduces the effect of imperfections in the wafers. The company also changed the physical structure of the cell to expose more of the silicon surface to the Sun. It is unclear whether the increase will be commercializable because the new cells require expensive, high-quality silicon crystal, while the previous record-holding cells do not.