Sharp Japan announced today it has developed a solar cell with the world’s highest conversion efficiency [press release in English]. The new product features an conversion efficiency of 35.8%, while Sharp only achieved 31.5% with the previous model. The latest model is a compound solar cell, in which two or more elements form photo-absorption layers (see the graphic below).
Solar cells of this kind are mainly used on space satellites and other special equipment. Sharp says this breakthrough is part of an initiative kicked of by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) to promote R&D in the solar energy sector (NEDO was, by the way, established as early as 1980).
Sharp plans to commercialize the new triple-junction compound solar cell by 2012.