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LED solar simulators and new test approaches for high-efficiency solar cells

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By Marko Turek; Kai Sporleder; Christian Hagendorf

Solar simulators are among the most important and fundamental measurement tools in photovoltaic production facilities as well as in R&D labs. Two major solar simulator technologies can be distinguished: xenon light sources and, more recently, light sources using light-emitting diodes (LEDs). While xenon solar simulators are a well-established technology, LED-based systems appear to be promising candidates for future applications, as they provide a higher flexibility with regard to the flash times, spectral light composition and intensity. Measurement recipes for power quantification under standard test conditions (STC) can be adapted to high-efficiency cells, which require longer flash times. Furthermore, fast inline spectral testing, such as a rapid external quantum efficiency (EQE) test or a rapid reflectivity test, becomes feasible. However, the development of LED-based systems requires well-designed optical and electronic components to ensure high-precision measurements on the basis of a laterally uniform and temporally stable light field.

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With a recent spate of new solar cell records announced for PERC-based architectures pushing conversion efficiencies past 24%, it is a good time to reflect on the pioneering work at SolarWorld – the first to commercialise and ramp PERC to volume production. A special in-depth paper from former members of SolarWorld’s R&D and manufacturing team should be a compelling read and a leading reference paper in the future. Adding to the PERC-based theme is the paper from ISC Konstanz, providing further real world insight into achieving manufacturability of nPERT cells with conversion efficiencies approaching 23%.

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