Alta Devices has broken a key record for solar energy efficiency.

The company’s single junction solar cell has been certified with an efficiency of 28.9% by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), making it the most efficient solar cell of this type. Alta Devices has held continuous world records for solar efficiency for most of the last decade.

Alta Devices CEO Jian Ding said:

“Alta Devices’s goal is to continue to lead the industry in solar technology and to enable a broad range of autonomous systems. We believe this is the best way to support the innovations of our customers.”

Solar efficiency needed for autonomous vehicles

A single junction solar cell has just one p-n junction, making them the simplest form of solar cell. A key application for this technology is in autonomous systems, such as driverless cars. When autonomous systems have to stop to refuel or recharge, they require human intervention, stopping them from being fully autonomous. However, with solar cells, vehicles can recharge while in motion.

Alta Devices’s solar cells are also thin and flexible, making them suitable for this application.

Alta Devices co-founder professor Harry Atwater said that many companies have been trying to beat the record:

“Achieving a new record for this class of devices is a landmark because a 1-sun, 1-junction cell is the archetypal solar cell. The fact that Alta is breaking its own record is also significant since many other teams have been actively attempting to break this record.”

The company has recently launched its Gen4 AnyLight commercial technology, a lightweight solar panel designed to be used in unmanned aerial vehicles, electric vehicles, and sensors.

Last week, Oxford PV set a record for perovskite solar cells, achieving 27.3% conversion efficiency.

Alta Devices co-founder professor Eli Yablonovitch said:

“Alta has the first solar cell based on internal luminescence extraction, which has enabled Alta to remain ahead of others. This scientific principle will be in all future high-efficiency solar cells.”