New research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) could help bring highly efficient solar cells down to Earth.
Two recently published papers spell out advances in the field of photovoltaics made from III-V materials—so named because of where they fall on the periodic table. The improvements to the III-V solar cells will help the technology find a terrestrial home. Although extremely efficient, III-V cells carry such a high price tag it only makes economic sense to use them on satellites and Mars rovers.
Ongoing research at NREL is focused on changing that. If the price can be brought down, the flexible thin-film solar cells would be ideal for building-integrated PV.