US thin-film manufacturer First Solar has achieved a 21.0% conversion rate in a cadmium-telluride (CdTe) PV cell, a new record.

Certified at the Newport Corporation’s Technology and Applications Center PV Lab, the cell beats First Solar's own previous CdTe record set in February 2014 of 20.4% and surpasses the 20.9% CIGS thin-film record held by Japan’s Solar Frontier.

The milestone also sets an all-time record for single-junction thin-film technologies, and has already been incorporated into the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s ‘Best Research Cell Efficiencies’ chart.

First Solar said the cell had been built at its factory and R&D centre in Perrysburg, Ohio using processes and materials designed for commercial-scale manufacturing, suggesting the company is looking for a rapid incorporation of the new technology into its production lines.

Raffi Garabedian, First Solar's chief technology officer, said: "Our Advanced Research team continues to deliver extraordinary results by creating practical devices capable of commercial-scale production. Not only have we have now demonstrated the highest single junction thin film cell on record, but just as important, our record cells are based on the same scalable manufacturing processes and commodity materials that we have proven through years of volume production."

The company said it had made strides in recent months in driving up the average efficiency of its production modules to 14% in Q2 2014, up from 13.5% at the start of the year.

It said the new record put in on course to reach a target set earlier this year of reaching a 22% cell conversion efficiency rate by the end of 2015.