Researchers from FAU Solar have built the most efficient solar modules in the world!

Dr. Andreas Distler (l.) and Dr. Hans-Joachim Egelhaaf(r.) with the organic photovoltaic module with new world record efficiency in the laboratory of the “Solar Factory of the Future" The organic photovoltaic module with new world record efficiency of 14.46%. Copyright: Kurt Fuchs / HI ERN

The most efficient organic solar module currently available has been constructed by a FAU Solar member Andreas Distler. The module achieves a new certified (Fraunhofer ISE (CalLab PV Cells) in Freiburg) record efficiency of 14.46 per cent, beating the previous world record for organic photovoltaic modules (OPV) of 13.1 per cent set by Waystech. This proves that organic photovoltaics can be established as an alternative to silicon and the like in the long term.

Bavaria’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Hubert Aiwanger, congratulates the scientists: ‘Organic PV modules expand the possibilities of photovoltaics. With the increase in efficiency, this solar energy potential can now be utilized even more effectively. Such groundbreaking innovations are precisely what Bavaria needs.’

The photovoltaic market is hungry for innovation – after all, solar energy is one of the great hopes when it comes to the energy revolution. Research in this future-oriented field is correspondingly extensive. One of the major challenges: finding the perfect material.

The new solar module with record efficiency of 14.46 % Copyright: Kurt Fuchs/HI ERN
The new solar module with record efficiency of 14.46 % Copyright: Kurt Fuchs/HI ERN

In terms of efficiency, silicon is currently hard to beat. However, it has serious disadvantages: it is too rigid and heavy and difficult to recycle. Researchers led by Christoph Brabec are therefore pursuing a different approach: they want to conquer the market with organic photovoltaics (OPV). The advantage of OPV: the modules can be flexible and also transparent, can be integrated into windows and façades, used indoors or as roofing in fields, for example in growing tunnels. They also have a much more favourable ecological footprint – the manufacturing processes are more environmentally friendly and the material is easier to recycle. “Solution-processed organic photovoltaics is becoming an important component of a photovoltaic strategy that emphasises the speed of capacity expansion and integration capability. Similar to perovskites, it enables photovoltaic applications beyond the gigawatt fields in desert regions. Organic photovoltaics can thus make a sustainable contribution to bringing the production of photovoltaics back to Europe,” explains materials Christoph Brabec.

The weakness of the technology to date has been its efficiency: while silicon modules already achieve efficiencies of over 20 per cent, OPV researchers were still struggling to achieve double-digit results just a few years ago. It is therefore all the more pleasing to see that new records are gradually being set in this area: Christoph Brabec’s team has managed to increase efficiency to 14.46 per cent.

Dr. Andreas Distler, who accomplished this coup, worked on three parameters: “Firstly, we utilized improved active materials. Equally important was our focus on reducing inactive areas on such a module – for this, we further optimized the laser structuring process, which divides the module surface into individual solar cells and electrically connects them. The art lies in keeping the laser lines as thin as possible because this surface on the module cannot generate electricity later,” explains the FAU Solar member. “Finally, in collaboration with colleagues from Technische Hochschule Nürnberg Georg Simon Ohm, we developed a more homogeneous coating through computer simulations. All of these are small efficiency boosters that, in combination, contribute to a one-percentage-point increase in efficiency.”

“For the successful collaboration between FAU and HI ERN, as part of the Forschungszentrum Jülich, this current world record is a particularly visible milestone: it underscores the significance and success of the Solarfabrik der Zukunft, jointly operated by both institutions at the Energie Campus Nürnberg,” adds Christoph Brabec. “With the Solarfabrik der Zukunft, a unique process infrastructure has been created with financial support from the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, enabling us to efficiently and swiftly transfer our technical developments and breakthroughs into the industry within the framework of the Solar TAP innovation platform. Similarly impressive achievements are realized in the development of printed perovskite solar cells as well as fully printed tandem cells.”


0 comments on “Researchers from FAU Solar have built the most efficient solar modules in the world!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *