The Download: super-efficient solar cells, and helpful robots

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In November 2023, a buzzy solar technology broke yet another world record for efficiency. The previous record had existed for only about five months—and it likely won’t be long before it too is obsolete.

This astonishing acceleration in efficiency gains comes from a special breed of next-­generation solar technology: perovskite tandem solar cells. These cells layer the traditional silicon with materials that share a unique crystal structure.

But there’s just one problem—perovskites have stumbled when it comes to actual deployment. While silicon solar cells can last for decades, few perovskite tandem panels have even been tested outside. Read the full story.

—Emma Foehringer Merchant

Super-efficient solar cells are just one of MIT Technology Review’s 10 Breakthrough Technologies for 2024. Check out the rest of the list and vote for the final 11th breakthrough—we’ll reveal the winner in April.

+ To learn more about the promises of the next-generation of solar technology and the race to bring it to market, check out Emma Foehringer Merchant’s fascinating story.

Take an inside look at the 10 Breakthrough Technologies of 2024

Every year for the past 20+ years, MIT Technology Review has selected a list of the breakthrough technologies that will have the greatest impact on how we live and work in the future.

Join MIT Technology Review’s Amy Nordrum, executive editor of operations, Rachel Courtland, commissioning editor, and Abby Ivory-Ganja, senior engagement editor, as they unveil and explore the 2024 list in an exclusive subscribers-only Roundtables event on Tuesday January 16 at 12:30pm ET.

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