A new record has been set in solar cell efficiency

Scientists worldwide are working hard to improve the efficiency of solar cells for several uses. A new record has been set for solar cell efficiency that could one day help harvest more power from the same surface area with the same amount of sunshine. Researchers have hit an efficiency of 29.15 percent in the perovskite/silicon tandem solar cell category.

There are multiple types of solar panel technologies, and for that particular technology, the long-term target for efficiency is more than 30 percent. Researchers are currently less than one percent away from reaching that goal. The prior record for the technology was a maximum of 28 percent efficiency.

In the paper, researchers wrote tandem solar cells that pair silicon with metal halide perovskite are a "promising option" for surpassing the single-cell efficiency limit. Perovskite and silicon are developed separately as semiconductor materials for use in solar panels. Of the two technologies, silicon cells have been around for longer and are currently the standard technology used in solar farms worldwide.

Perovskite is seen as the new challenger to silicon and may someday surpass silicon in terms of usefulness. The tandem solar cell uses a pair of semiconductors able to capture different parts of the light spectrum. Silicon captures infrared light, while perovskite captures visible light. Scientists on the project note that putting the two materials together doesn't substantially increase the cost of making the panels.

Scientists achieved the record 29.15 percent efficiency using a one-centimeter by one-centimeter panel. The test panel's tiny stature means that scaling up is required, and the team believes that will be possible. After 300 hours of simulated use, the tandem cell retains 95 percent of its original efficiency. Testing is ongoing, and past research suggests the technology can reach efficiency rates of well above 30 percent.