Researchers Claim to Have Achieved 25% Cell Efficiency Using Thin-Film Solar Cell

Researchers from the Hasselt University, Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (imec), VITO, EnergyVille, and PERCISTAND consortium claim to have achieved a rare feat of 25% efficiency using a thin-film solar cell.

Speaking on the development, Bart Vermang, coordinator within the PERCISTAND consortium, said, “In addition, our solar cells are thin and flexible, making them ideal for integration into buildings and roofs. With these thin-film solar cells, we are truly competitive with the traditional solar panel sector for the first time.”

“We’ve achieved an energy efficiency of 25% for the first time, which is just as much energy as a traditional solar cell can generate on a day-to-day basis. And we haven’t yet reached the upper limit of our thin-film solar cells,” Vermang adds.

The group of researchers is aiming to achieve 30% efficiency within the next three years. According to Vermang, the solar cells developed by the researchers is made from a paper-thin flexible material and can be used to develop solar panels of all colors and sizes, which can be integrated into facades and roofs of homes.


Speaking on the future of these highly-efficient solar cells, Vermang adds, “At the moment, we have achieved these results on solar cells of approximately 1 cm², but we are making rapid progress. I suspect that these panels will be available on the market within eight years.”

The PERCISTAND research project has received funding of 5 million euros (~$5.47 million) from the European Horizon 2020 program, and the consortium consists of 12 international partners, which includes Hasselt University, imec, VITO, TNO, and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology among others.

Thin-film solar modules have lost out to crystalline silicon PV modules on cost and efficiency. First Solar, which makes cadmium telluride based modules, is the only prominent company in the world still manufacturing thin-film panels.

Recently, the scientists of St. Petersburg University in Russia tested a new technology for the fabrication of high-efficiency solar cells based on A3B5 semiconductors integrated on a silicon substrate. A3B5 compounds are almost equivalent of Silicon (Si) and Germanium (Ge) by their elector-physical properties.

In August last year, researchers at the French Centre de Nanosciences et de Nanotechnologies (C2N) had collaborated with researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) and others to efficiently capture the sunlight in a solar cell on an ultrathin absorbing layer made of 205 nm-thick gallium arsenide (GaAs) on a nanostructured back mirror. This new process of fabrication achieved an efficiency of nearly 20%.

Image credit: VITO