Soitec announces the first four-junction solar cell for concentrator PV systems

New solar cell achieves a breakthrough in PV technology development with 43.5 percent efficiency
Soitec announces the first four-junction solar cell for concentrator PV systems

The French semiconductor manufacturer Soitec has announced the launch of the industry’s first four-junction solar cell device which works under concentrated sunlight. The new solar cell has put the company on the industry’s technology roadmap by achieving a breakthrough efficiency level of 43.6 percent.

The development was made possible through a strong collaboration between solar cell device and epitaxial growth centres of expertise combined with the company’s experience in substrate-bonding and layer-transfer technologies. The efficiency level was confirmed by Germany’s expert Fraunhofer ISE calibration laboratory. The 43 percent efficiency level was demonstrated over a concentration range of between 250 and 500.

The triple-junction solar cells used in today’s commercial concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) modules are approaching their physical limites in converting sunlight into energy and so Soitec’s new four-junction cell has been designed to increase the conversion efficiency of commercial CPV systems. The new solar cell will enable these systems to achieve the highest level ever achieved by any PV technology.

The cell was developed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Freiburg, Germany and also the Helmholtz-Zentrum für Materialien und Energie in Berlin. CEA-Leti, France’s research institute for electronics and information technologies also actively participated in the project.

“Boosting efficiency levels is a key step in outperforming the economics of conventional PV” said  André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé, CEO of Soitec. “This great achievement brings strong value to our solar division and validates our strategy and business model in the solar market. Through our collaboration with the Fraunhofer and the Leti, two world-class R&D partners, our own leadership experience in materials and bonding technologies as well as our CPV commercial experience, we have been able to achieve this major advancement in a very short time. This represents a major proof-of-concept, on track to demonstrate a concentrated solar cell with 50% efficiency as soon as 2015.”

Soitec is an international manufacturing company with plants and R&D centres in France, Singapore, Germany and the United States.

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