There are hundreds of groups around the world looking for ways to improve the efficiency and cut costs of solar cell technology. It was a team at MIT that managed to set the record for the most efficient quantum-dot cells.
The efficiency is at 9 percent, so the technology hasn't hit its full potential yet, but the advancements made in increasing the flow within the cells to make them more efficient in converting sunlight into energy are remarkable. The new process does not involve high temperatures to grow active layers, and there was no degradation after being in storage for more than five months.
These super-efficient solar cells work by individually absorbing light through a thin coating of quantum dots. The cells then work as a group to transport the charge, which is collected and harnessed for electricity.
"Silicon had six decades to get where it is today, and even silicon hasn't reached the theoretical limit yet. You can't hope to have an entirely new technology beat an incumbent in just four years of development," said Vladimir Bulović, an MIT professor.
It is also important to note that the new technology has a much less energy-intensive manufacturing process in comparison to other solar cell technology.