Concentrated Solar Startup Sets a New Efficiency Record

Solar tracker: This array of solar modules was built by Semprius for testing. The modules are mounted on a two-axis tracker that keeps them aimed at the sun. Semprius

Semprius, a startup that makes miniscule solar cells capable of capturing concentrated sunlight without costly cooling systems, announced this week that it had made the world’s most efficient solar panel.

The company’s solar panels use tiny solar cells made of gallium arsenide—the record-breaking solar module contains hundreds of such solar cells, each about the width of a line drawn by a ball-point pen, arranged under lenses that concentrate sunlight 1,100 times.

Whereas a silicon solar cell only efficiently absorbs a narrow band of sunlight, the solar cells in this module are made of three layers of gallium arsenide, each modified to convert a different part of the solar spectrum into electricity.

Tests by a third-party certified the efficiency of Semprius’s solar panel at 33.9 percent, marking the first time any solar module has been able to convert more than one-third of the sunlight that falls on it into electricity.

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