Australian Researchers Help Break Solar Power Conversion Record

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Researchers from the University of New South Wales have played the key role in attaining the highest conversion efficiency for solar power, setting a new world record of 43 per cent of sunlight converted into electricity

Led by Scientia Professor Martin Green, Research Director of the UNSW ARC Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence, the University of New South Wales team with assistance of US groups have demonstrated a multi-cell combination which has set the new benchmark.

As sunlight is made up of many colours of different energy levels, different materials can better capture the full spectrum. By combining the materials, Professor Green and his team developed the high converting solar cell array.

Their silicon cell was optimised to capture light at the red and near-infrared end of the spectrum, allowing conversion of up to 46 per cent of light into electricity. When combined with four other cells, each optimised for different parts of the solar spectrum, the five-cell combination converted 43 per cent of the sunlight into electricity, bettering the previous world record by 0.3 per cent.

While the new record was not directly comparable to the 25 per cent efficiency world record for an individual solar cell set by UNSW last year, it’s an important pointer for the future potential of solar photovoltaic power.

The ARC (Australian Research Council) Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence officially came into being on 13th June 2003. The Centre is charged with the mission of advancing silicon photovoltaic research and applying these advances to the related field of silicon photonics.

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