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IBM alliance sets efficiency record for solar power cells using common materials

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There have been more than a few solar power efficiency records set in the past few months, let alone years. What makes IBM, DelSolar, Solar Frontier and Tokyo Ohka Kogyo think they can just waltz in and claim a record of their own? By using more commonplace elements in the periodic table, that's how. The partnership's new photovoltaic cell based on copper, zinc and tin (CZTS for short) can convert light rays to electric power with a 11.1 percent efficiency rate -- still nothing to upset traditional silicon power, but a large 10 percent more efficient than anything else in the class. In its early form, CZTS can already be manufactured through ink printing and could be produced in quantities equivalent to about 500 gigawatts of power per year, or five times more than some of the next-closest alternatives. The group wants to improve CZTS' efficiency over the course of the next several years, ideally reaching the point where it's useful as a truly cheap, ubiquitous source of power. We're looking forward to the day when there's a little slice of solar energy in just about everything, hopefully including a few more hybrid cars and private aircraft.

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