Scientists at Oxford University have developed a solvent system with reduced toxicity that can be used to manufacture perovskite solar cells, which may clear one of the barriers to the commercialization of a technology.

By combining methylamine and acetonitrile, researchers have developed a clean solvent with a low boiling point and low viscosity that quickly crystallises perovskite films at room temperature and could be used to help coat large solar panels with the material.

The researchers explain that at the moment, three main solvents are used in the manufacture of perovskite solar cells, and they are all toxic; In addition, the most efficient perovskite solar cells are currently made through a process called solvent quenching — a technique that is not easily transferred from lab-scale deposition techniques to large-scale deposition techniques. While vapour deposition of these materials can overcome this problem, it will bring with it considerable additional costs. One of the main advantages of this material is that it is cheap and can be easily solution-processed.

It is important to note that that largely reducing the toxicity of the solvent hasn’t led to a reduction in the efficiency of the material in harnessing solar energy.