The US Air Force awards University of Toledo $12.5 million to develop space-based solar energy sheets

The U.S. Air Force recently awarded the University of Toledo (UToledo) $12.5 million to develop photovoltaic energy sheets that would live in space and harvest solar energy to transmit power wirelessly to Earth-based receivers or to other orbital or aerial instrumentation, such as communications satellites.

UToledo physicists will develop flexible solar cell sheets, each roughly the size of a piece of paper, that can be assembled and interconnected into much larger structures. The team will focus on tandem architectures and work with a variety of combinations of solar cells, perovskites included.

Researchers design a 15.2%-efficient foldable perovskite solar cell with a carbon nanotube electrode

Scientists from South Korea have developed a foldable thin-film device with promising characteristics. Integrating a perovskite cell material and a carbon nanotube electrode, the group fabricated a device that achieved 15.2% efficiency and could be folded more than 10,000 times at a bending radius of 0.5mm.

A 15.2%-efficient solar cell that you can fold in half image

Solar cell materials tend to be quite sensitive. Designing and manufacturing devices that can withstand the stress of being folded and bent is challenging, and many of even the most promising solutions are still quite limited in their flexibility. The scientists at Pusan National University in South Korea took a major step forward in solving this problem, fabricating a device that can be folded down to a ‘bending radius’ – the minimum size of fold possible without causing damage – of 0.5mm.

Power Roll raises US$8 million to scale-up solar film manufacture

Power Roll logo imagePower Roll, a developer of low-cost and lightweight flexible film for energy generation and storage, recently reported raising £3 million (around USD$4.16 million), which joins a previous raise and takes total investment in the firm to £5.8 million (over USD$8 million) over two funding rounds completed in the last six months.

Power Roll is working with a perovskite solar ink, and has already achieved 11% efficiency, with a roadmap to bring this to 20%. Power Roll also states that its substrate is compatible with any photo absorbing ink.

Flexible semi-transparent tandem perovskite/CIGS solar cell with 26.5% efficiency reported by Solliance and MiaSolé

Solliance and U.S-based MiaSolé announced a new record - power conversion efficiency of 26.5% on a tandem solar cell that combined a top rigid semi-transparent perovskite solar cell with a bottom flexible copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) cell.

Solliance and Miasole's 23%efficiency tandem perovskite/CIGS cells image

This impressive efficiency was achieved by optimizing the bandgap and the efficiency of both the rigid semi-transparent perovskite top cell and the flexible CIGS bottom cell. The CIGS was roll to roll produced on steel foil, with a power conversion efficiency of 20.0%.

A simple dual passivation approach improves tin-based perovskite solar cells

Scientists at Shaanxi Normal University in China have demonstrated a new, simpler technique for manufacturing tin-containing perovskite solar cells (PSCs).

To improve PSC device stability, researchers tend to focus on improving either the perovskite layer or the tin-based electron transport layer (ETL) of the PSC. The new research, however, uses a new dual passivation technique that stabilizes both tin in the ETL and elements in the perovskite film in one step.

Researchers reconfigure the band-edge states of perovskites to enhance their performance

Researchers from UCLA, NREL, The University of Toledo, Yangzhou University, Soochow University, Monash University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, have found that perovskites have a previously unutilized molecular component that can further tune the electronic property of perovskites.

perovskite material with organic molecules that can add to its electronic properties imageSchematic of perovskite material with organic molecules that can add to its electronic properties. Credit: Jingjing Xue and Rui Wang/UCLA Samueli School of Engineering

Perovskite materials have a crystal-lattice structure of inorganic molecules like that of ceramics, along with organic molecules that are interlaced throughout. Up until now, these organic molecules appeared to only serve a structural function and would not directly contribute to perovskites' electronic performance.

Swansea University's UNRISE project brings updates

An international collaboration led by Swansea University called SUNRISE project was launched to accelerate the commercialization and deployment of low-cost third generation solar energy technology. Initially formed in 2018 between five UK and five top-tier Indian institutions, the project now includes a range of academic and industrial partners from around the world. In 2019, the project also received £800,000 by the UK government to support its activity.

hybrid ultra-capacitor (HUC) energy storage system imageThe team has installed a solar-powered, hybrid ultra-capacitor (HUC) energy storage system in two different village schools in India. Image from The Engineer

With uptake of solar technology in the developing world hampered by the relatively high installation and maintenance costs of traditional silicon-based solar panels, SUNRISE is focusing its efforts on perovskite solar cells (PSC) which are based on low-cost, earth-abundant, sustainable materials and are thought offer a more affordable solution.