Canadian researchers have found a way to make solar cells more efficient, perhaps twice as efficient as current tech used to convert sunlight into electricity. The work was done at Canada's McMasters University and is already in commercial development. It uses one-crystal thick layers of solar collecting materials on top of a thin layer of silicon.
The company aiming to capitalize on the materials research is Arise. Here's part of the university's summary of the research findings and its application in solar cells: "The ability to deposit high quality single crystal layers of selected chemical elements is key to absorbing and converting more sunlight to electricity, but achieving the necessary alignment on silicon was thought to be highly improbable at a large scale. The approach of combining different materials to capture a greater share of the solar spectrum, into multi-junction photovoltaic solar cells, today uses high-cost substrates such as germanium, and has mostly been deployed for space-based applications. However, solar-grade silicon crystal technology being developed by ARISE Technologies has the potential to make the discovery cost-competitive for large-scale applications."