Compound solar cells utilize photo-absorption layers made from compounds consisting of two or more elements, such as indium and gallium. The basic structure of this latest triple-junction compound solar cell uses proprietary Sharp technology that enables efficient stacking of the three photo-absorption layers, with InGaAs (indium gallium arsenide) as the bottom layer.
By optimizing the relative proportions of indium, gallium, and arsenide, Sharp increased the efficiency with which the cell absorbs sunlight at its various wavelengths. This improvement enabled Sharp to achieve the world's highest solar cell conversion efficiency of 37.9%.
Sharp's aim for the future is to apply this latest development to concentrator photovoltaic power systems that use lenses to collect and convert sunlight into electricity. The company also foresees numerous other practical applications for the cells, such as on space satellites and vehicles.