Solar Frontier cell hits record 20.9%

Japanese thin-film maker Solar Frontier has hit a 20.9% conversion efficiency with a factory-ready copper, indium, selenium (CIS) cell, beating its own record of 19.7%.

The figure, achieved on a 0.5sq cm cell during joint research with national R&D body Nedo, was independently verified by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute. 

“Solar Frontier’s new 20.9% efficiency record resulted from a CIS cell cut from a 30cm x 30cm substrate produced using a sputtering-selenisation formation method - the same method we use in our factories,” says Solar Frontier chief technology officer Satoru Kuriyagawa.

“The significance is two-fold: it ensures we can transfer our latest achievement into mass production faster; and it proves the long-term conversion efficiency potential of [our] proprietary CIS technology.”

The hybrid high-temperature sputtering-selenisation process developed by Solar Frontier to manufacture its thin-film promises to overtake conventional “co-evaporation”, which is more expensive and has a best-ever efficiency of 20.3%.

Kuriyagwa recently told Recharge he was “confident” next-generation CIS technology would reach a game-changing 29.7% efficiency, eclipsing the accepted 25% ceiling on thin-film efficiency.

Solar Frontier’s latest efficiency record was set at the Atsugi Research Centre in Kanagawa.