UNSW’s ‘stacked’ silicon-perovskite technology promises to double solar cell efficiency

An innovative solar project being developed by researchers at the University of New South Wales is aiming to more than double the efficiency of solar cells.

The project, headed up by leading UNSW solar researcher Martin Green, is working with a new method of stacking solar cells, which Green says could lift their efficiency from around 15 per cent, to more than 30 per cent – and ultimately more than 40 per cent.

Green says his project is focused on marrying two solar PV technologies – the silicon-based technology that underpins most global solar manufacturing, and one of the newest, so-called perovskite technology.

By stacking the thin perovskite cells on top of standard silicon cells, Green says the conversion efficiency can be greatly improved. That’s because the perovskite cells can convert the blue wavelengths of sunlight, while the silicon cells convert the infra-red and red wavelengths of sunlight into electricity.

“We think we can take efficiencies from 15 per cent which is common nowadays, initially to over 30%, and ultimately more than 40 per cent,“ Green said.

“This will be one of the driver’s of affordable solar generation.”

Green’s UNSW project was one of 12 selected from a field of more than 100 applications for funding by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
ARENA will invest $21.5 million into the research, leveraging another $50 million from the solar industry and the private sector.

This will be the first time a tandem, stacked approach has been attempted with silicon and perovskite cells on this scale.

Top image: Generic perovskite crystal, via Martin Green et al / Nature Photonics

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson