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World's best solar cells use satellite technology

Satellite technology is behind the latest solar breakthrough

Solar technology has long been one of those fields in which progress was always creeping, rather than coming in leaps and bounds. However, Sharp has upped the ante somewhat this week with the announcement of the world's most efficient solar cell.

The new device takes the percentage of solar energy actually converted to electricity from 31.5 per cent to 35.8 percent, a substantial leap in the field.

Space-based technology

Sharp achieved the feat using a long-sought indium gallium arsenide layer that had previously been impossible to manufacture correctly.

The InGaAs layer was necessary because the researchers chose to develop the new cell using a triple-junction compound technique that's generally confined to the specialist space cells that power satellites.

Orbital science aside, what the breakthrough means on this planet is that we may be within reach of truly efficient solar power at long last.