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‘Messy’ production of perovskite material increases solar cell efficiency

last modified Nov 14, 2019 04:43 PM

Discovery means simpler and cheaper manufacturing methods are actually beneficial for the material’s use in next-generation solar cells or LED lighting.

 

University of Cambridge researchers from the Stranks Lab and Deschler Lab studying perovskite materials for next-generation solar cells and flexible LEDs have discovered that they can be more efficient when their chemical compositions are less ordered, vastly simplifying production processes and lowering cost. The most commonly used material for producing solar panels is crystalline silicon, but to achieve efficient energy conversion requires an expensive and time-consuming production process. The silicon material needs to have a highly ordered wafer structure and is very sensitive to any impurities, such as dust, so has to be made in a cleanroom.

In the last decade, perovskite materials have emerged as promising alternatives. The lead salts used to make them are much more abundant and cheaper to produce, and can be prepared in a liquid ink that is simply printed to produce a film of the material. The components used to make the perovskite can be changed to give the materials different colours and structural properties, for example, making the films emit different colours or collect sunlight more efficiently.

The researchers discovered that their rough, multi-component alloyed preparations were actually improving the efficiency of the materials by creating lots of areas with different compositions that could trap the energised charge carriers, either from sunlight in a solar cell, or an electrical current in an LED.

Click here for the University of Cambridge article.

Click here for the Nature Photonics publication.

 

Image credit: Ella Maru Studio. Artist's impression of perovskite structures.