Best Research-Cell Efficiency Chart

NREL maintains a chart of the highest confirmed conversion efficiencies for research cells for a range of photovoltaic technologies, plotted from 1976 to the present.

Learn how NREL can help your team with certified efficiency measurements.

Chart of PV research-cell efficiency versus years, with 24 curves that all start low to the left and rise approximately linearly to the upper right

Access our research-cell efficiency data.

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Or download the full data file or data guide.

Interactive Best Research-Cell Efficiency Chart

Explore and customize this data using our new interactive research-cell efficiency chart.

Download technology-specific charts:

Crystalline silicon cells

Single-junction gallium arsenide cells

Multijunction cells

Thin films

Emerging PV

Hybrid tandems.

Cell Chart Explanatory Notes

Devices included in this chart of the current state of the art have efficiencies that are confirmed by independent, recognized test labs—e.g., NREL, AIST, JRC-ESTI, and Fraunhofer-ISE—and are reported on a standardized basis. The measurements for new entries must be with respect to Standard Test or Reporting Conditions as defined by the global reference spectrum for flat-plate devices and the direct reference spectrum for concentrator devices as listed in standards IEC 60904-3 edition 2 or ASTM G173. The reference temperature is 25°C, and the area is the cell total area or the area defined by an aperture.

Cell efficiency results are provided within families of semiconductors:

  • Multijunction cells
  • Single-junction gallium arsenide cells
  • Crystalline silicon cells
  • Thin-film technologies
  • Emerging photovoltaics.

Some 28 different subcategories are indicated by distinctive colored symbols.

The most recent world record for each technology is highlighted along the right edge in a flag that contains the efficiency and the symbol of the technology. The company or group that fabricated the device for each most-recent record is bolded on the plot.

The information plotted by NREL is provided in good faith, but NREL cannot accept direct responsibility for any errors or omissions. The plot is not copyrighted and may be used in presentations and publications, with a notation that states: "This plot is courtesy of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO."

Label Full Name (If Different from Label)
AIST National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
Alta  Alta Devices
Amonix Amonix Inc.
ARCO Atlantic Richfield Company
ASU Arizona State University
Boeing The Boeing Co.
DGIST Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology
EMPA Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
EPFL École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
FhG-ISE Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems
FirstSolar First Solar Inc.
Georgia Tech Georgia Institute of Technology
Groningen University of Groningen
HKUST Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
HZB Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin
IBM International Business Machines
ICCAS Institute of Chemistry–Chinese Academy of Sciences
IES-UPM Instituto de Energía Solar–Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
ISCAS Institute of Semiconductors–Chinese Academy of Sciences
ISFH Institute for Solar Energy Research Hamelin
Japan Energy  
Kaneka Kaneka Solar Energy
Konarka Konarka Technologies Inc.
Kopin Kopin Corp.
KRICT Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology
LG LG Electronics 
MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Mitsubishi Mitsubishi Chemical Corp.
Mobil Solar  
Monosolar Monosolar Company Ltd.
NIMS National Institute for Materials Science
No. Carolina State U. North Carolina State University
NREL National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Oxford PV  
Phillips 66  
Photon Energy  
Plextronics Plextronics Inc.
RadboudU Radboud University
Sandia Sandia National Laboratories
Sanyo Sanyo Electric Company Ltd.
SCUT-CSU South China University of Technology - Central South University
SCUT-eFlexPV South China University of Technology - eFlexPV
Sharp Sharp Solar
SolarFron Solar Frontier
SolarJunc Solar Junction Corp.
Solibro Solibro GmbH
Spectrolab Spectrolab Inc.
SpireSemicon Spire Semiconductor LLC
Stanford Stanford University
Sumitomo Sumitomo Chemical Co. Ltd.
SunPower SunPower Corp.
Tek of Taiwan  
U. Dresden University of Dresden
U. Linz University of Linz
U. Maine University of Maine
U. Queensland University of Queensland
U. So. Florida University of South Florida
U. Stuttgart University of Stuttgart
U. Toronto University of Toronto
UCLA University of California, Los Angeles
UNIST Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology
UNSW University of New South Wales
Varian Varian Semiconductor
ZSW Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff- Forschung Baden-Württemberg (Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg)