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UD solar cell module among highest efficiencies reported

A solar cell module designed and assembled by a team that includes several researchers from the University of Delaware has been listed in Progress in Photovoltaics, which publishes periodic listings of the highest confirmed efficiencies for a range of photovoltaic cell and module technologies.

An efficiency of 36.1 percent was confirmed for the UD assembly -- which consists of a lens, a dichroic mirror, and two two-cell stacks -- by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

“This is probably the highest efficiency yet measured for the experimental conversion of sunlight to electricity by any means,” states the article, which was written by an international group of distinguished scientists.

The solar cell module assembly was designed by a team led by Prof. Allen Barnett, in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and three of his students, Xiaoting Wang, Nick Waite and Paola Murcia. The work also includes several other researchers from UD, NREL and Arizona State University (ASU). The conceptual design for the assembly was initiated under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Very Efficient Solar Cell and Module program.

“This is the only citation from a U.S. university in this important index,” Barnett says. “The module and test bed were designed, fabricated, and assembled by the UD students, led by Xiaoting. They also participated in the test and the development of the test protocol in collaboration with NREL.

“This result is one outcome of a major collaborative effort, demonstrated by the number and breadth of organizations that contributed to the new architectural design and implementation. The optics designs, solar cells, and module assembly include contributions from government, university, and industrial participants.”

By providing guidelines for the inclusion of results, Progress in Photovoltaics not only provides an authoritative summary of the current state of the art but also encourages researchers to seek independent confirmation of results and to report results on a standardized basis. The most important criterion for inclusion of results is that they must have been measured by a recognized test center. The journal's results are published in tabular format. The UD assembly appears in a table showing the best results for concentrator cells and concentrator modules.

The assembly was also documented in a paper, “Outdoor Measurements for High Efficiency Solar Cell Assemblies,” presented at the 24th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition in Hamburg, Germany, in September 2009. In addition to Barnett and his students, the paper was coauthored by Keith Emery and Myles Steiner from NREL, UD professors Fouad Kiamilev and Keith Goossen, and Christiana Honsberg, professor at ASU.

Article by Diane Kukich

Photos by Doug Baker

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