Alta Devices sets new dual-junction solar efficiency record at 31.6%

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Alta Devices has announced its latest world record for its gallium arsenide (GaAs) solar PV technology. The company has produced a 31.6% dual-junction cell at one sun, as verified by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL).

While higher efficiencies have been achieved with concentration, Alta had set a one-sun efficiency record for dual-junction PV at 30.8% in 2013. Shortly thereafter this record was bested by NREL, however now Alta has regained the world record.

Alta Devices says that it was able to make the jump by modifying its single-junction GaAs design to include a layer of indium gallium phosphide (InGaPh), which it says utilizes high-efficiency photons more efficiently.

Alta now holds the world record for both single- and dual-junction solar PV at one sun. However, there are typically additional challenges in bringing the technology breakthroughs in research cells into mass production. Manufacturing costs are another question, and GaAs has a tiny share of the global PV market.

The company is advertising the thinness and light weight of its GaAs cells for use in unmanned aerial vehicles (“drones”), stating that its GaAs modules require less than half of the surface area and represent one quarter the weight on a per watt basis versus competing thin-film technologies.

Alta Devices also produces PV for applications including wearable technology and the Internet of Things.