The Tokyo-based company said the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology confirmed the cell’s performance in the lab. The company beat the previous conversion efficiency record it reached two years ago by almost four percent.
The cell is reportedly made with layers of different materials, each optimized to capture different light wavelengths and convert as much sunlight as possible to electricity.
Sharp stacked indium, gallium and arsenide to form what it calls a triple-junction compound solar cell, a technology it has been trying to improve on since 2000.
The company did not disclose the exact kind of solar cell used. Current thin-film solar cells also sandwich different materials to have efficiency gains, most popular of which are copper indium gallium selenide and cadmium-telluride.
Thin-film is less effective at converting sunlight to electricity. Silicon, the dominant solar cell material in the market, can convert sunlight to electricity with up to 20 percent efficiency on average. The highest conversion efficiency rating for solar thin-film so far is from First Solar Inc, the world’s largest thin-film solar panel maker. A test thin-film solar cell from Arizona-based company recorded a 17.3 percent rating last July.
Sharp plans to apply the cell technology to concentrating PV panels, which use mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto a solar cell. – Oliver M. Bayani