Article

Raising the one-sun conversion efficiency of III–V/Si solar cells to 32.8% for two junctions and 35.9% for three junctions

  • Nature Energy 2, Article number: 17144 (2017)
  • doi:10.1038/nenergy.2017.144
  • Download Citation
Received:
Accepted:
Published online:

Abstract

Today’s dominant photovoltaic technologies rely on single-junction devices, which are approaching their practical efficiency limit of 25–27%. Therefore, researchers are increasingly turning to multi-junction devices, which consist of two or more stacked subcells, each absorbing a different part of the solar spectrum. Here, we show that dual-junction III–V//Sidevices with mechanically stacked, independently operated III–V and Si cells reach cumulative one-sun efficiencies up to 32.8%. Efficiencies up to 35.9% were achieved when combining a GaInP/GaAs dual-junction cell with a Si single-junction cell. These efficiencies exceed both the theoretical 29.4% efficiency limit of conventional Si technology and the efficiency of the record III–V dual-junction device (32.6%), highlighting the potential of Si-based multi-junction solar cells. However, techno-economic analysis reveals an order-of-magnitude disparity between the costs for III–V//Si tandem cells and conventional Si solar cells, which can be reduced if research advances in low-cost III–V growth techniques and new substrate materials are successful.

  • Subscribe to Nature Energy for full access:

    $59

    Subscribe

Additional access options:

Already a subscriber?  Log in  now or  Register  for online access.

References

  1. 1.

    et al. U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark: Q1 2016 Technical Report NREL/TP-6A20-66532 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2016);

  2. 2.

    , , ,  & Solar cell efficiency tables (version 47). Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 24, 3–11 (2016).

  3. 3.

    et al. n-Type Si solar cells with passivating electron contact: identifying sources for efficiency limitations by wafer thickness and resistivity variation. Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells (2017).

  4. 4.

    et al. Achievement of more than 25% conversion efficiency with crystalline silicon heterojunction solar cell. IEEE J. Photovolt. 4, 1433–1435 (2014).

  5. 5.

    et al. Solar cell efficiency tables (version 50). Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 25, 668–676 (2017).

  6. 6.

    ,  & Reassessment of the limiting efficiency for crystalline silicon solar cells. IEEE J. Photovolt. 3, 1184–1191 (2013).

  7. 7.

    et al. 35.8% space and 38.8% terrestrial 5J direct bonded cells. Proc. 40th IEEE Photovolt. Spec. Conf. (PVSC) (IEEE, 2014);

  8. 8.

    et al. Four-junction wafer-bonded concentrator solar cells. IEEE J. Photovolt. 6, 343–349 (2016).

  9. 9.

    et al. Design flexibility of ultra-high efficiency 4-junction inverted metamorphic solar cells. Proc. 42nd IEEE Photovolt. Spec. Conf. (IEEE, 2015);

  10. 10.

    , ,  & Supercharging silicon solar cell performance by means of multijunction concept. IEEE J. Photovolt. 5, 968–976 (2015).

  11. 11.

    ,  & Selecting tandem partners for silicon solar cells. Nat. Energy 1, 16137 (2016).

  12. 12.

    et al. Realization of GaInP/Si dual-junction solar cells with 29.8% 1-sun efficiency. IEEE J. Photovolt. 6, 1012–1019 (2016).

  13. 13.

    et al. Numerical analysis of radiative recombination and reabsorption in GaAs/Si tandem. IEEE J. Photovolt. 5, 1079–1086 (2015).

  14. 14.

    et al. Wafer-bonded GaInP/GaAs//Si solar cells with 30.2% efficiency under concentrated sunlight. IEEE J. Photovolt. 5, 977–981 (2015).

  15. 15.

     & A 31%-efficient GaAs/silicon mechanically stacked, multijunction concentrator solar cell. Proc. Conf. Record Twentieth IEEE Photovolt. Spec. Conf. (IEEE, 1988);

  16. 16.

    et al. A mixed-cation lead mixed-halide perovskite absorber for tandem solar cells. Science 351, 151–155 (2016).

  17. 17.

    et al. Efficient near-infrared-transparent perovskite solar cells enabling direct comparison of 4-terminal and monolithic perovskite/silicon tandem cells. ACS Energy Lett. 1, 474–480 (2016).

  18. 18.

     & III–V multijunction solar cell integration with silicon: present status, challenges and future outlook. Energy Harvest. Syst. 1, 121–145 (2014).

  19. 19.

    , , ,  & GaAs0.75P0.25/Si dual-junction solar cells grown by MBE and MOCVD. IEEE J. Photovolt. 6, 326–331 (2016).

  20. 20.

    , ,  & GaAsP solar cells on GaP/Si with low threading dislocation density. Appl. Phys. Lett. 109, 032107 (2016).

  21. 21.

    , ,  & Metamorphic epitaxy for multijunction solar cells. MRS Bull. 41, 202–209 (2016).

  22. 22.

    ,  & III–V/Si hybrid photonic devices by direct fusion bonding. Sci. Rep. 2, 349 (2012).

  23. 23.

    et al. Monolithic two-terminal III–V//Si triple-junction solar cells with 30.2% efficiency under 1-sun AM1.5g. IEEE J. Photovolt. 7, 367–373 (2017).

  24. 24.

    et al. Progress towards a 30% efficient GaInP/Si tandem solar cell. Energy Procedia 77, 464–469 (2015).

  25. 25.

    , ,  & High-efficiency silicon heterojunction solar cells: a review. Green 2, 7–24 (2012).

  26. 26.

    Radiative efficiency of state-of-the-art photovoltaic cells. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 20, 472–476 (2012).

  27. 27.

    , , ,  & Enhanced external radiative efficiency for 20.8% efficient single-junction GaInP solar cells. Appl. Phys. Lett. 103, 041118 (2013).

  28. 28.

    , ,  & High performance GaAs solar cell using heterojunction emitter and its further improvement by ELO technique. Proc. 32nd Euro. Photovolt. Sol. Energy Conf. EU-PVSEC (2016).

  29. 29.

    et al. Optical enhancement of the open-circuit voltage in high quality GaAs solar cells. J. Appl. Phys. 113, 123109 (2013).

  30. 30.

    et al. 27.6% conversion efficiency, a new record for single-junction solar cells under 1 sun illumination. Proc. 37th IEEE Photovolt. Spec. Conf. (IEEE, 2011);

  31. 31.

    et al. Optically enhanced photon recycling in mechanically stacked multijunction solar cells. IEEE J. Photovolt. 6, 358–365 (2016).

  32. 32.

    et al. Passivation of interfaces in high-efficiency photovoltaic devices. Proc. Passivation of Interfaces in High-Efficiency Photovolt. Devices, Proc. MRS Spring Meeting (MRS, 1999);

  33. 33.

    , , ,  & GaInAsP/GaInAs tandem solar cell with 32.6% one-sun efficiency. Proc. 44th IEEE Photovolt. Spec. Conf. 2017 (IEEE, 2017).

  34. 34.

    et al. Solar cell efficiency tables (version 49). Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 25, 3–13 (2017).

  35. 35.

    ,  & Application of InGaP/GaAs/InGaAs triple junction solar cells to space use and concentrator photovoltaic. Proc. 2014 IEEE 40th Photovolt. Spec. Conf. (IEEE, 2014);

  36. 36.

    et al. Wafer bonded III–V on silicon multi-junction cell with efficiency beyond 31%. Proc. 44th IEEE Photovolt. Spec. Conf. abstract, Sub-Area 3.5 (2017).

  37. 37.

    , ,  & A cost roadmap for silicon heterojunction solar cells. Sol. Energy Mater. Sol. Cells 147, 295–314 (2016).

  38. 38.

    et al. Epitaxial lift-off GaAs solar cell from a reusable GaAs substrate. Mater. Sci. Eng. B 45, 162–171 (1997).

  39. 39.

    et al. Techno-economic analysis of three different substrate removal and reuse strategies for III–V solar cells. Prog. Photovolt. Res. Appl. 24, 1284–1292 (2016).

  40. 40.

    et al. Principle of direct van der Waals epitaxy of single-crystalline films on epitaxial graphene. Nat. Commun. 5, 4836 (2014).

  41. 41.

    et al. Analysis of GaAs solar cells at high MOCVD growth rates. Proc. IEEE 40th Photovolt. Spec. Conf. (IEEE, 2014);

  42. 42.

    et al. Low-cost growth of III–V layers on Si using close-spaced vapor transport. Proc. 42nd IEEE Photovolt. Spec. Conf. (2015);

  43. 43.

    ,  & Low-cost III–V solar cells grown by hydride vapor-phase epitaxy. Proc. 2014 IEEE 40th Photovolt. Spec. Conf. (IEEE, 2014);

  44. 44.

    et al. Re-considering the economics of photovoltaic power. Renew. Energy 53, 329–338 (2013).

  45. 45.

     & How predictable is technological progress? Res. Policy 45, 647–665 (2016).

  46. 46.

    , ,  & Techno-economic analysis of tandem photovoltaic systems. RSC Adv. 6, 66911–66923 (2016).

  47. 47.

    et al. Cost-performance analysis of perovskite solar modules. Adv. Sci. 4, 1600269 (2016).

  48. 48.

    et al. Single-crystal II–VI on Si single-junction and tandem solar cells. Appl. Phys. Lett. 96, 153502 (2010).

  49. 49.

    et al. Electrical and mechanical properties of plated Ni/Cu contacts for Si solar cells. Energy Procedia 77, 733–743 (2015).

Download references

Acknowledgements

S.E. acknowledges support by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No: 706744, action acronym: COLIBRI). Funding for this work at NREL was provided by DOE through EERE contract SETP DE-EE00030299 and under Contract No. DE-AC36-08GO28308 and by Laboratory-Directed Research and Development funds. At NREL, W. Olavarria performed III–V MOVPE growth, M. Young processed the III–V devices, and A. Hicks provided some illustrations. At CSEM, funding was provided by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Nanotera and PNR70 programmes) and by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 641864. N. Badel from CSEM performed the screen printing and F. Debrot from CSEM the wafer texturing. We would like to thank T. Moriarty of NREL’s cell certification laboratory for careful and thorough testing of several sets of tandem-cell devices.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Institute of Microengineering (IMT), Photovoltaics and Thin Film Electronic Laboratory (PV-Lab), 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland

    • Stephanie Essig
    •  & Christophe Ballif
  2. CSEM PV-center, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland

    • Christophe Allebé
    • , Loris Barraud
    • , Antoine Descoeudres
    • , Matthieu Despeisse
    •  & Christophe Ballif
  3. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, Colorado 80401, USA

    • Timothy Remo
    • , John F. Geisz
    • , Myles A. Steiner
    • , Kelsey Horowitz
    • , J. Scott Ward
    • , Manuel Schnabel
    • , David L. Young
    • , Michael Woodhouse
    •  & Adele Tamboli

Authors

  1. Search for Stephanie Essig in:

  2. Search for Christophe Allebé in:

  3. Search for Timothy Remo in:

  4. Search for John F. Geisz in:

  5. Search for Myles A. Steiner in:

  6. Search for Kelsey Horowitz in:

  7. Search for Loris Barraud in:

  8. Search for J. Scott Ward in:

  9. Search for Manuel Schnabel in:

  10. Search for Antoine Descoeudres in:

  11. Search for David L. Young in:

  12. Search for Michael Woodhouse in:

  13. Search for Matthieu Despeisse in:

  14. Search for Christophe Ballif in:

  15. Search for Adele Tamboli in:

Contributions

S.E. developed the tandem-cell design and, together with A.T., led the tandem-cell development and optimization. D.L.Y. and J.S.W. contributed to initial stages of tandem-cell design development. J.F.G., M.A.S. and A.T. developed the III–V top-cell layer structure and optimized the growth conditions. A.T. characterized the III–V solar cells, and is the project PI at NREL. C.A. and M.D. led the Si-bottom-cell fabrication at CSEM and C.A. provided characterization of the Si cells before stacking. S.E., M.S. and A.T. carried out the tandem-cell stacking process and the uncertified characterization. L.B. and A.D. from CSEM assisted with the Si-bottom-cell fabrication and optimization. C.B. is the heading the SHJ and tandem-cell activities at CSEM. The cost analysis was performed by K.H., T.R. and M.W. from NREL and discussed in detail with A.T., S.E., C.A., M.D. and C.B. S.E. wrote the manuscript, and all other authors provided feedback.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Stephanie Essig.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Table 1 and Supplementary Figures 1–3.