The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has selected 19 projects for which to grant a total funding of $6 million, to pursue innovative, targeted, early-stage ideas in solar energy research and development. The projects were selected through the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS) 2022 Funding Program.
Projects were awarded in two solar energy research areas: PV and concentrating solar-thermal power (see CSP winners here). PV projects will improve power conversion efficiency, energy output, reuse and recycling processes, service lifetime, and manufacturability of PV technologies. Of the 19 selected project, 3 were perovskite-related.
The first was the University of Alabama, which received $300,000 for its project named: "Precursor Engineering of All-Inorganic Perovskite Absorber and Rapid Photonic Annealing for Large-Area Highly Stable Perovskite Solar Modules". This project will aim to enable high-speed printing of perovskite solar cells using a newly modified perovskite material and innovative processing techniques using a method that will help overcome current barriers to perovskite cell manufacturing, such as instability and long processing times. The team will use a perovskite material where the organic molecules are replaced with inorganic elements to increase its stability, and pair this with outer layers made of metal oxide materials to provide physical protection and improve transfer of electricity out of the module. These will then be used to make modules from a liquid solution through a process called slot-die coating, which can be scaled up for use in a high-speed manufacturing line. The team will aim to make mini-modules with power conversion efficiencies above 20%. This combination of new materials and techniques have the potential to provide low-cost, stable perovskite photovoltaic modules.
Another project is by the University of Arizona, called: "Advanced Perovskite Solar Cell Development and Stability Using In-Line Electrochemical Methodologies". It also received $300,000 and will aim to develop an instrument to test for defects or degradation in perovskite photovoltaic cells that can be integrated into a high-throughput manufacturing line. This will provide a low-cost, highly scalable method to understand the impact of different materials and manufacturing methods on the stability of perovskite PV cells and enable expanded perovskite PV manufacturing.
The last awarded perovskite-based project, that received the same amount, is by the University of Hawaii at Manoa, named: "Monolithic Encapsulation of Perovskite Solar Cells with Transparent Conductive Composites for Long-Term Stability". This project will investigate a new sealant material to use as a protective outer layer on perovskite PV cells. Most sealants used today must be applied at high temperatures, which can break down the perovskite material. This new material could be applied at room temperature. The new material could also replace glass in cells where the glass is used as a protective layer, decreasing the cost of these modules.