Perovskite Solar

What are perovskite?

Perovskites are a class of materials that share a similar structure, which display a myriad of exciting properties like superconductivity, magnetoresistance and more. These easily synthesized materials are considered the future of solar cells, as their distinctive structure makes them perfect for enabling low-cost, efficient photovoltaics. They are also predicted to play a role in next-gen electric vehicle batteries, sensors, lasers and much more.

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How does the PV market look today?

In general, Photovoltaic (PV) technologies can be viewed as divided into two main categories: wafer-based PV (also called 1st generation PVs) and thin-film cell PVs. Traditional crystalline silicon (c-Si) cells (both single crystalline silicon and multi-crystalline silicon) and gallium arsenide (GaAs) cells belong to the wafer-based PVs, with c-Si cells dominating the current PV market (about 90% market share) and GaAs exhibiting the highest efficiency.

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Thin-film cells normally absorb light more efficiently than silicon, allowing the use of extremely thin films. Cadmium telluride (CdTe) technology has been successfully commercialized, with more than 20% cell efficiency and 17.5% module efficiency record and such cells currently hold about 5% of the total market. Other commercial thin-film technologies include hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) and copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) cells, taking approximately 2% market share each today. Copper zinc tin sulphide technology has been under R&D for years and will probably require some time until actual commercialization.

What is a perovskite solar cell?

An emerging thin-film PV class is being formed, also called 3rd generation PVs, which refers to PVs using technologies that have the potential to overcome current efficiency and performance limits or are based on novel materials. This 3rd generation of PVs includes DSSC, organic photovoltaic (OPV), quantum dot (QD) PV and perovskite PV.

A perovskite solar cell is a type of solar cell which includes a perovskite structured compound, most commonly a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material, as the light-harvesting active layer. Perovskite materials such as methylammonium lead halides are cheap to produce and relatively simple to manufacture. Perovskites possess intrinsic properties like broad absorption spectrum, fast charge separation, long transport distance of electrons and holes, long carrier separation lifetime, and more, that make them very promising materials for solid-state solar cells.

Perovskite-solar-cell

Perovskite solar cells are, without a doubt, the rising star in the field of photovoltaics. They are causing excitement within the solar power industry with their ability to absorb light across almost all visible wavelengths, exceptional power conversion efficiencies already exceeding 20% in the lab, and relative ease of fabrication. Perovskite solar cells still face several challenge, but much work is put into facing them and some companies, are already talking about commercializing them in the near future.



What are the advantages of Perovskite solar cells?

Put simply, perovskite solar cells aim to increase the efficiency and lower the cost of solar energy. Perovskite PVs indeed hold promise for high efficiencies, as well as low potential material & reduced processing costs. A big advantage perovskite PVs have over conventional solar technology is that they can react to various different wavelengths of light, which lets them convert more of the sunlight that reaches them into electricity.

Moreover, they offer flexibility, semi-transparency, tailored form factors, light-weight and more. Naturally, electronics designers and researchers are certain that such characteristics will open up many more applications for solar cells.

What is holding perovskite PVs back?

Despite its great potential, perovskite solar cell technology is still in the early stages of commercialization compared with other mature solar technologies as there are a number of concerns remaining.

One problem is their overall cost (for several reasons, mainly since currently the most common electrode material in perovskite solar cells is gold), and another is that cheaper perovskite solar cells have a short lifespan. Perovskite PVs also deteriorate rapidly in the presence of moisture and the decay products attack metal electrodes. Heavy encapsulation to protect perovskite can add to the cell cost and weight. Scaling up is another issue - reported high efficiency ratings have been achieved using small cells, which is great for lab testing, but too small to be used in an actual solar panel.

A major issue is toxicity - a substance called PbI is one of the breakdown products of perovskite. This is known to be toxic and there are concerns that it may be carcinogenic (although this is still an unproven point). Also, many perovskite cells use lead, a massive pollutant. Researchers are constantly seeking substitutions, and have already made working cells using tin instead. (with efficiency at only 6%, but improvements will surely follow).

What’s next?

While major challenges indeed exist, perovskite solar cells are still touted as the PV technology of the future, and much development work and research are put into making this a reality. Scientists and companies are working towards increasing efficiency and stability, prolonging lifetime and replacing toxic materials with safer ones. Researchers are also looking at the benefits of combining perovskites with other technologies, like silicon for example, to create what is referred to as “tandem cells”.

Commercial activity in the field of perovskite PV

In September 2015, Australia-based organic PV and perovskite solar cell (PSC) developer Dyesol declared a major breakthrough in perovskite stability for solar applications. Dyesol claims to have made a significant breakthrough on small perovskite solar cells, with “meaningful numbers” of 10% efficient strip cells exhibiting less than 10% relative degradation when exposed to continuous light soaking for over 1000 hours. Dyesol was also awarded a $0.5 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to commercialize an innovative, very high efficiency perovskite solar cell.

Also in 2015, Saule Technologies signed an investment deal with Hideo Sawada, a Japanese investment company. Saule aims to combine perovskite solar cells with other currently available products, and this investment agreement came only a year after the company was launched.

In October 2020, Saule launched sunbreaker lamellas equipped with perovskite solar cells. The product is planned to soon be marketed across across Europe and potentially go global after that.

In August 2020, reports out of China suggested that a perovskite photovoltaic cell production line has gone into production in Quzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province. The 40-hectare factory was reportedly funded by Microquanta Semiconductor and expected to produce more than 200,000 square meters of photovoltaic glass before the end of 2020.

In September 2020, Oxford PV's Professor Henry Snaith stated that the Company's perovskite-based solar cells are scheduled to go on sale next year, probably by mid 2021. These will be perovskite solar cells integrated with standard silicon solar cells.

 

The latest perovskite solar news:

Researchers develop highly efficient p-i-n perovskite solar cells while tackling the issue of endurance to temperature variations

Researchers from Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Swansea University, University of Stuttgart, Henan University, University of Naples Federico II, Queen Mary University of London and Soochow University have investigated a chemical variation that significantly improves the stability of the perovskite thin film in different solar cell architectures, among them the p-i-n architecture.

Daily temperature variations induce phase transitions and lattice strains in halide perovskites, challenging their stability in solar cells. The international team in this work set out to address this issue and improve the stability of PSCs in the face of these changes. 

Read the full story Posted: Jan 28,2023

Researchers develop metal oxide barrier coating to protect perovskite photovoltaics from terrestrial and space stressors

Researchers from the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), University of North Texas and University of Oklahoma have demonstrated that an ultrathin layer of  silicon oxide layer can harden perovskite photovoltaics to protect it from critical stressors in space and on Earth. 

Space has its own unique environmental challenges for solar cells, perovskite ones included. PSCs have to be resilient against such challenges as “radiation, atomic oxygen, vacuum, and high-temperature operation,” according to the study’s abstract.

Read the full story Posted: Jan 27,2023

Researchers estimate lifetime and efficiency required for PSCs to become competitive for residential use

An international research group that included teams from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, University of Fribourg, the University of the Basque Country and the University of New South Wales has assessed the levels of efficiency and stability that perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have to achieve in order to become an economically viable technology to compete with crystalline silicon cells in the rooftop segment.

The scientists assessed the necessary lifetime (LT) of a perovskite module, which they defined as the time until a module has 80% of its initial efficiency, as a function of efficiencies to be competitive in the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE). They found that perovskite solar modules might need to provide 20% efficiency for at least 36 years, or 25% efficiency for a minimum of 21 years, if they want to compete with conventional PV panels.

Read the full story Posted: Jan 26,2023

EPFL-led team uses additives to improve the stability and efficiency of perovskite solar cells

A team of researchers, led by Professor Michael Grätzel at EPFL and Xiong Li at the Michael Grätzel Center for Mesoscopic Solar Cells in Wuhan (China), have developed a technique that addresses stability concerns of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) and increases their efficiency.

The researchers introduced a phosphonic acid-functionalized fullerene derivative into the charge-transporting layer of the PSC as a “grain boundary modulator”, which helps strengthen the perovskite crystal structure and increases the PSC’s resistance to environmental stressors like heat and moisture.

Read the full story Posted: Jan 22,2023

Researchers fabricate solar cells based on gold polyhalide hybrid perovskite

Researchers at the Research Institute of Sweden (RISE) and KTH Royal Institute of Technology have presented the ionic liquid (IL) synthesis of two novel pseudo-2D perovskite-type gold(III)polyiodide compounds and their use as active layers in monolithic solar cells.

The team stated that its recent work represents the first demonstration of film deposition of gold iodide/polyiodide compounds onto porous monolithic substrates with subsequent solar cell characterization. The devices reportedly showed promising photovoltaic performance and could unlock new materials design possibilities, ultimately moving away from lead-based photovoltaic materials. These findings further highlight the use of simple polyiodide entities to increase the structural and electronic dimensionality of gold perovskite-type anions.

Read the full story Posted: Jan 14,2023

Researchers turn to facet engineering for more stable perovskite solar cells

Researchers at Switzerland's EPFL and Sungkyunkwan University in Korea have addressed the issue of perovskite solar cells' stability. They focused on the degradation of perovskite thin films, which can be damaged by exposure to moisture, heat, and light. The team looked at two specific crystal facets (the crystal's flat surface), characterized by a particular arrangement of atoms. The arrangement of atoms on these facets can affect the properties and behavior of the crystal, such as its stability and its response to external stimuli like moisture or heat.

The researchers looked at the (100) and (111) facets of perovskite crystals. The (100) facet is a plane that is perpendicular to a crystal's c-axis with its atoms arranged in a repeating pattern in the form of a square grid. In the (111) facet the atoms are arranged in a triangular grid. The study found that the (100) facet, which is most commonly found in perovskite thin films, is particularly prone to degradation as it can quickly transition to an unstable, inactive phase when exposed to moisture. In contrast, the (111) facet was found to much more stable and resistant to degradation.

Read the full story Posted: Jan 13,2023

Researchers reach >28% efficiency with perovskite-silicon tandem PV cell with textured wafers

Scientists from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and Slovak Academy of Sciences have demonstrated a power conversion efficiency of 28.1% for a perovskite-silicon tandem solar cell based on textured silicon wafers.

Textured silicon wafers used in silicon solar cell manufacturing offer superior light trapping, which is a critical enabler for high-performance photovoltaics. The team explained that a similar optical benefit can be obtained in monolithic perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells, enhancing the current output of the silicon bottom cell. Yet, such complex silicon surfaces may affect the structural and optoelectronic properties of the overlying perovskite films.

Read the full story Posted: Jan 12,2023

Perovskite absorbers enable solar-powered system that converts plastic and greenhouse gases into sustainable fuels

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have developed a system that can transform plastic waste and greenhouse gases into sustainable fuels and other valuable products – using energy from the Sun. The team states that this is the first time that a system that can convert two waste streams into two chemical products at the same time has been achieved in a solar-powered reactor.

The reactor converts carbon dioxide (CO2) and plastics into different products that are useful in a range of industries. In tests, CO2 was converted into syngas, a key building block for sustainable liquid fuels, and plastic bottles were converted into glycolic acid, which is widely used in the cosmetics industry. The system can easily be tuned to produce different products by changing the type of catalyst used in the reactor. The integrated reactor, which uses a light absorber based on perovskites, has two separate compartments: one for plastic, and one for greenhouse gases. 

Read the full story Posted: Jan 10,2023

Swedish-Israeli research team will study the self-healing abilities of perovskite solar cells

A research collaborative project involving scientists from Sweden's Karlstad University and Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Weizmann Institute of Science will examine how perovskite solar cells could recover and self-repair at night.

Metal halide perovskite materials have been shown to possess a self-repairing ability. One of the Israeli research teams have shown that metal halide perovskite solar cells, which degrade in sunlight, can rebuild their efficiency at night, when it’s dark. The other Israeli research team exposed single crystals of lead-based metal halide perovskites to powerful lasers, which made them lose their ability to glow. The researchers then found that the material regained its photoluminescence following some recuperation time in darkness. Even if these two observations — one in the solar cell’s thin, multicrystalline layer and the other one in single crystals — seem related, the potential relation between these two phenomena still needs to be better understood, and how it works.

Read the full story Posted: Jan 09,2023

Renshine Solar announces 29.0% efficiency for all-perovskite tandem solar cell

Chinese perovskite solar technology company Renshine Solar (Suzhou) has announced 29.0% steady-state power conversion efficiency of all-perovskite tandem solar cell developed in-house. The company now expects to exceed 30% in 2023.

Japan Electrical Safety and Environment Technology Laboratories (JET) has reportedly certified the efficiency claim that was reported for a designated area of 0.04888 cm².

Read the full story Posted: Jan 05,2023