Researchers in both this department's Electronic and Interface Materials Laboratory and at the University of Warwick have been awarded a £1M EPSRC grant to develop a new solar cell based on highly charged thin films. This new cell technology can supersede current photovoltaic modules by avoiding the drawbacks of high temperature, and fully exploiting the efficiency potential of a silicon single junction device.
The architecture is termed a charged oxide inversion layer (COIL) solar cell. It integrates advanced nanoscale thin-film materials to augment the PV potential of a silicon absorber. This cell architecture has the potential to deliver efficiencies over 25%, and provides a direct route to use in emerging selective contacts, tandem, and bifacial designs.
Photovoltaic solar cells now generate a signficant proportion of the world's electricity and have vast potential for future growth. PV is enormously important for climate change mitigation, and growth worldwide is forecast to be over tenfold during the next three decades.
More than 90% of solar cells are produced from crystalline silicon, and costs have fallen to levels not previously thought possible (<2.34 US cents/kWh). Silicon-based solar technology is hence critial to the expansion of renewable energy in the coming decades. Its continuous advancement is essential to accelerate uptake of and impact from green electricity generation worldwide and for fulfilling the UK's obligations under the Paris Agreement.