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IBM Improves Thin Film Solar Efficiency 40%
February 15, 2010 –
A new thin film solar cell under development by IBM achieves a 9.6% efficiency rate, a 40% increase over pervious product designs. While that number alone is not impressive for traditional solar cells, what sets this cell apart from others is its composition of earth abundant elements.
The cell is comprised of copper, tin, zinc, sulfur and selenium and according to IBM, has set a new world record for efficiency in this cell type. Typically thin film solar is constructed of copper indium gallium selenide or cadmium telluride, two compounds that are difficult to find in large quantities and also very expensive. Attempts to create affordable, earth abundant solar cells from related compounds that are free of indium, gallium or cadmium have not exceeded 6.7 percent, compared to IBM's new 9.6 efficiency rating.
IBM has also pioneered a new form of manufacturing for the cells and believes that this technology will see widespread adoption and will be able to produce more energy at a lower cost than today’s cells. The company published their achievements in a paper from Advanced Materials last week.