New Micromorph a-Si Solar Panels reach 11.9% Efficiency

Oerlikon’s proprietary Micromorph® solar cells and Corning’s specialty, advanced light-capturing glass combined to achieve 11.9-percent stabilized conversion efficiency in NREL tests, which beats out the previous record of 11.7 percent in 2004.

World Record in Production Costs

This is the latest advancement in Oerlikon’s ThinFab line of solar panels, which, according to the company. have also achieved a world record in production cost per watt at 50 euro cents per watt-peak (about $0.64 USD).

Micromorph technology is itself an advancement on amorphous silicon solar cells (a-Si cells). Put simply, thin film solar cells made from amorphous silicon consist of a thin layer of silicon deposited onto a transparent conductive oxide (TCO).

Oerlikon’s Micromorph technology adds another layer in tandem with the first. This added microcrystalline absorber enables the solar cell to absorb a wider spectrum of light, edging into the red and near-infrared spectrum, which conventional silicon solar cells cannot do.

According to Germany-based Oerlikon this extra absorption increases cell conversion efficiency (the rate at which sunlight is converted into electricity), by 30 percent.

Corning Inc.’s proprietary glass, or glazing, technology ensures that a higher amount of light is available for absorption by the solar cells beneath it. It is in this way that the two companies continue to make advancements in thin-film silicon.

About Oerlikon

Oerlikon (SIX: OERL) is a leading high-tech industrial group specializing in machine and plant engineering. The Company is a provider of innovative industrial solutions and cutting-edge technologies for textile manufacturing, thin-film coating, drive, vacuum, solar energy systems and advanced nanotechnology.

A Swiss company with a tradition going back 150 years, Oerlikon is a global player with around 16,000 employees at 157 locations in 36 countries and sales of CHF 2.9 billion in 2009. The Company invests more than CHF 200 million annually in R&D, with over 1,200 specialists working on future products and services. The operative businesses rank either first or second in their respective global markets.

Note: Oerlikon does not produce and sell solar panels, they produce and sell the manufacturing equipment / turn-key manufacturing lines (i.e, ThinFab) and expertise to produce thin film solar panels to various PV manufacturers, who then produce the panels.

For more information about Oerlikon Solar's Micromorph Technology click here.

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Link from this page on the new Micromorph a-Si technology to an overview of Amorphous Silicon