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Solar cells electrical power from Sunlight

Insight into the Hysprint-Pero-Lab - enlarged view

Hysprint-Pero-Lab: Innovative tandem solar cells made of silicon and perovskites achieve high efficiencies. © HZB/P. Dera

Image of a CIGS cell - enlarged view

We develop new energy materials in order to reduce costs and increase the efficiency. © HZB/P. Dera

Solar cells convert sunlight to electrical energy. The solar power generated in Germany on sunny days meets almost half of the total power demand in the country. Solar panels made of crystalline silicon cells are widely available in the market. They offer high levels of efficiency, but the manufacturing costs cannot be easily reduced any further. To expand the use of solar energy further, new technologies are therefore needed. For this reason, researchers at the HZB are developing combinations of materials that offer the prospect of being less expensive.

The scanning electron microscope image shows the different layers of perovskite silicon solar cells. - enlarged view

SEM image that shows different layers of a perovskit silicon tandem solar cell.

Thin-film solar cells

We are concentrating on thin-film solar cells made of various systems of materials. The extremely thin layers require less material and energy for their fabrication. We are conducting advanced development on silicon thin-film cells, while investigating cells made of combinations of materials such as copper, indium, gallium, sulphur, and selenium (CIGS cells), those of copper, zinc, tin, and sulphur (kesterite), and solar cells made of perovskites. The combination of various materials is especially promising. Tandem solar cells of silicon and perovskites can utilise a wider portion of the solar spectrum than silicon solar cells alone, for example. At the HZB, several junior research groups are working within the framework of the Helmholtz Innovation Labs HySPRINT on bringing Perovskit solar cells into application. 

Insight into the EMIL laboratory - enlarged view

EMIL, das Energie Materialien In-situ Labor an BESSY II. © HZB / S. Grunze

Improve solar cells

The cause: many electrons are lost through various layers of material or at boundary layers. Using the soft X-rays of BESSY II, researchers can analyse exactly why these losses occur.

At the Competence Centre Photovoltaics Berlin (PVcomB at HZB) and in other laboratories, teams are working to develop prototypes for industrial applications. This also involves making production processes for the manufacture of photovoltaic modules more cost-effective.

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