The majority of talks, posters, and papers proposed for the conference are on the subject of perovskite—so exciting is the field even though perovskite isn’t technically a dye cell
A new solar material that has the same crystal structure as a mineral first found in the Ural Mountains in 1839 is shooting up the efficiency charts faster than almost anything researchers have seen before—and it is generating optimism that a less expensive way of using sunlight to generate electricity may be in our planet’s future.
Researchers at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are analyzing the new material, perovskite, using the lab’s unique testing capabilities and broad spectrum of expertise to uncover the secrets and potential of the semiconducting cube-like mineral.
NREL has already produced three scientific papers on perovskite (see sidebar), reporting on the science behind the very large length of the electron pairs (or charge diffusion length) in mesostructured perovskite solar cells. The two most-studied perovskite device structures are mesostructured (of medium complexity) and planar (two-dimensional). NREL Research Fellow David Ginley, who is a world-renowned materials scientist and winner of several R&D 100 Awards, said what makes perovskite device structures so remarkable is that when processed in a liquid solution, they have unusual abilities to diffuse photons a long distance through the cell. That makes it far less likely that the electrons will recombine with their hole pairs and be lost to useful electricity. And that indicates a potential for low-cost, high-efficiency devices.
NREL Senior Scientist Daniel Friedman notes that the light-absorbing perovskite cells have “a diffusion length 10 times longer than their absorption length,” not only an unusual phenomenon, but a very useful one, too.
Perovskite Is Flexible, Easier to Manipulate
The new cells are made from a relative of the perovskite mineral found in the Ural Mountains. Small but vital changes to the material allow it to absorb sunlight very efficiently. The material is also easy to fabricate using liquids that could be printed on substrates like ink in a printing press, or made from simple evaporation. These properties suggest an easy, affordable route to solar cells.
By playing with the elemental composition, it is also possible to tune the perovskite material to access different parts of the sun’s spectrum. That flexibility can be crucial, because it means that the material can be changed by deliberately introducing impurities, and in such a way that it can be used in multijunction solar cells that have ultra-high efficiencies. Multijunction solar cells are an NREL invention from 1991, but because of high material costs, standard multijunctions are used mostly in outer space applications such as satellites and the Mars rovers. Cheaper multijunction cells based on perovskites could radically change this.
In four years, perovskite’s conversion efficiency—the yield at which the photons that hit the material are turned into electrons that can be used to generate electricity—has grown from 3.8% in 2009 to just north of 16%, with unconfirmed reports of even higher efficiencies arriving regularly. That’s better than a four-fold increase. By contrast, efficiencies of single-crystal solar cells grew by less than 50% during their first five years of development, and most other types of solar cells showed similar modest improvements during their first few years.
NREL materials scientists are encouraged by the possibility of further optimizing the materials. For example, replacing lead with tin in the cells could improve the efficiency of multijunction cells made from perovskite. Besides switching to a more environmentally friendly material, the change from lead to tin would also allow the finished solar cell to better withstand high humidity.
The Latest on: Perovskite
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The Latest on: Perovskite
- Lithium-doped two-dimensional perovskite scintillator for wide-range radiation detectionon June 24, 2020 at 2:14 am
Fig. 2: Temperature-dependent X-ray luminescence. Fig. 5: Alpha particle detection and discrimination between thermal neutron and gamma ray. The structure was determined by powder X-ray ...
- Perovskite solar pushes up efficiency in hydrogen-making cellon June 23, 2020 at 8:45 am
Scientists in Australia have used a custom perovskite solar cell to increase the efficiency of solar hydrogen production close to the point thought to be commercially viable. Solar-to-hydrogen ...
- At CAGR of 13.9%, Perovskite Solar Cells Module Market | Increased Growth Rate, Revenue, Share, Analysis and Forecast 2028on June 23, 2020 at 3:12 am
The Perovskite Solar Cells Module market size is projected to expand from USD 318 Mn in 2018 to USD 1046.2 Mn by 2028, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13.90% during the forecast period. For ...
- New production equipment for large-area perovskite solar cellson June 19, 2020 at 3:34 am
Researchers from both entities said the machine can facilitate the production of “low-cost” perovskite cells through the MK-20 once-through process. The manufacturing process, which is based ...
- Perovskite solar cells take a step forwardon June 18, 2020 at 10:59 am
In the past decade, however, perovskite solar cells (PSCs) show impressive advances with a high power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 25.2% (1) and low fabrication cost, which make this technology ...
- Vapor fix lifts up perovskite crystal performanceon June 18, 2020 at 10:38 am
A simple and noninvasive treatment could become a prime post-crystallization process to optimize the optoelectronic properties of hybrid perovskite solar cell materials. Lead-containing hybrid ...
- Researchers Solve Overheating Problem in Solar Materialon June 16, 2020 at 2:31 am
Solar cells made from a material called perovskite—both instead of or alongside silicon—have proven to have lower cost and higher efficiency than silicon. However, there have been limitations to this ...
- Sn(IV)-free tin perovskite films realized by in situ Sn(0) nanoparticle treatment of the precursor solutionon June 16, 2020 at 2:08 am
The toxicity of lead perovskite hampers the commercialization of perovskite-based photovoltaics. While tin perovskite is a promising alternative, the facile oxidation of tin(II) to tin(IV ...
- German Team Makes Printed Perovskite LEDson June 15, 2020 at 3:14 am
What's more, processing perovskite crystals is comparatively simple. "They can be produced from a liquid solution, so you can build the desired component one layer at a time directly on the substrate" ...
- Printed perovskite LEDs - an innovative technique towards a new standard process of electronics manufacturingon June 15, 2020 at 2:12 am
Graphic representation of the printing process for the perovskite LED. (Image: Claudia Rothkirch/HU Berlin) Microelectronics utilise various functional materials whose properties make them suitable ...
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