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.


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.


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 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 examine perovskite solar cells' toxicity and suggest risks may be overestimated

Scientists from Skoltech (Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology), Research Centre for Medical Genetics, Federal Research Center of Problems of Chemical Physics and Medicinal Chemistry and Zhengzhou Research Institute of HIT have studied the toxicity of materials used in perovskite solar cells.

They concluded that once the remaining technological hurdles are overcome, mass production of this potentially cheap and efficient alternative to silicon-based photovoltaics should not cause any significant environmental risks and health hazards. The study draws attention to perovskite components other than lead, suggesting that metal's toxicity, by comparison, could be overestimated.

Read the full story Posted: Mar 06,2023

Researchers examine the role of surface texturing in perovskite-silicon tandem cells

Nano-textured surfaces are an interesting approach for optimizing the optical characteristics for monolithic perovskite/silicon tandem solar cells. Scientists from Germany’s Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) have examined the development of different textures of silicon surfaces using various commercial additives and their performance in silicon heterojunction (SHJ) and SHJ–perovskite tandem solar cells.

The team performed optical and electrical characterization and found that nano-textured surfaces can compete with standard textured surfaces, yielding higher average efficiencies in single junctions. In addition, their compatibility with solution-processed perovskite top cells was demonstrated in the recent study, yielding a perovskite/silicon tandem solar cell efficiency of >28% on a bottom cell with nano-texture on both sides.

Read the full story Posted: Mar 05,2023

Researchers use alkylammonium chlorides to control growth of perovskite layers and achieve 26.08% efficiency PSC

Researchers at South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Chonnam National University and Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) have developed a unique perovskite solar cell that uses alkylammonium chloride (RACI) to control the formation of defects in the perovskite layer.

The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has certified the South Korean research team's cell's 25.73% efficiency. The champion device built by the scientists reached an efficiency of 26.08%.

Read the full story Posted: Mar 02,2023

Researchers show that channeling ions into defined pathways can improve the stability and performance of perovskite solar cells

Researchers from North Carolina State University, Pennsylvania State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found that channeling ions into defined pathways in perovskite materials improves the stability and operational performance of perovskite solar cells. 

The team's recent study presented a multiscale diffusion framework that describes vacancy-mediated halide diffusion in polycrystalline metal halide perovskites, differentiating fast grain boundary diffusivity from volume diffusivity that is two to four orders of magnitude slower. 

Read the full story Posted: Mar 01,2023

Researchers develop inkjet-printed flexible semitransparent solar cells with perovskite and polymeric pillars

Researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel have reported the fabrication of flexible and semitransparent perovskite-based solar cells.

Much of the research in the field of building-integrated photovoltaics is focused on semitransparent perovskite solar cells on glass substrates, which can be utilized as glass windows during the construction of the buildings. In their recent study, the team chose to develop cells that can be used in existing windows through a retrofitting process.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 28,2023

Researchers raise the efficiency of an inverted perovskite solar cell via mixed solvent vapor annealing method based on ethylenediamine (EDA)

Scientists from the University of Konstanz in Germany, Quaid-i-Azam University and Kohsar University Murree in Pakistan and Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China have fabricated an inverted perovskite solar cell with a passivation technique utilizing a mixed solvent vapor annealing method based on ethylenediamine (EDA).

The team managed to show how simple passivation can improve both the performance and operational stability of a perovskite solar cell. The scientists said EDA has been used in previous research projects to suppress the defect states in different kinds of perovskite. However, the exact way that EDA contributes to the morphology, defect passivation and optoelectronic properties of perovskite films was unclear.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 27,2023

Researchers develop new approach for lead-free capping materials

Researchers from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) in Singapore have developed a method for capping materials based on non-toxic metals being used in the manufacture of perovskite solar cells.

(Left) A diagram showing the different layers of the perovskite solar cell capped with the zinc-based capping material fabricated by the researchers. (Right) The dotted green rectangle indicates the active region of the perovskite solar cell that captures sunlight and converts it to electricity. Image: NTU Singapore / Nature Energy

Perovskite solar cells are made of several layers of materials, including a perovskite layer that harvests light and a capping layer. The capping layer is coated onto the perovskite layer to protect the solar cell from environmental stresses such as heat and moisture and to boost the performance of the cell. To ensure that the capping layer is compatible with the underlying perovskite layer, researchers typically use an approach called the half precursor (HP) method to fabricate the capping layer. One of the precursor chemicals is first deposited on top of the perovskite layer which provides the other precursor. Through a process known as cation exchange reaction, the deposited precursor then reacts with lead ions present in the perovskite layer beneath to form a lead-based chemical compound that makes up the capping layer. As a result of the HP method, lead is also present in the protective capping layer. A method that enables non-toxic metals to be used in the capping layer could be a game-changer for perovskite solar cells.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 25,2023

Researchers develop efficient photodiode based on a tandem perovskite-organic solar cell architecture

Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology and TNO at Holst Centre have developed a sensor that converts light into an electrical signal at an astonishing 200% efficiency – a seemingly impossible figure that was achieved through the exceptional nature of quantum physics.

SA schematic of the photodiode architecture

The team of scientists sees its invention potentially used in technology that monitors a person's vital signs (including heartbeat or respiration rate) from afar, without the need for anything to be inserted or even attached to the body.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 21,2023

Researchers increase the photoresponsivity of a lead-halide perovskite by 250%

Researchers from Korea's Institute for Basic Science (IBS), Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of Rochester in the U.S, and The Australian National University have increased the photoresponsivity of a lead-halide perovskite for solar cell applications by 250%. They created a perovskite film with a plasmonic substrate made of hyperbolic metamaterial and characterized it with transition dipole orientation.

The team has considerably reduced electron recombination processes in lead-halide perovskites (LHPs) used for solar cell applications. Recombination can have a significant impact on electrical performance in perovskite cells, with implications for open-circuit voltage, short-circuit current, fill factor, and ultimately, power conversion efficiency.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 20,2023

Researchers find special ingredient for stable and efficient inverted perovskite solar cells

Scientists from The University of Toledo, University of Washington, Northwestern University, University of Toronto and Empa–Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, have addressed a major challenge standing in the way of the commercialization of halide perovskite solar cells - their durability - by discovering an ingredient that enhances adhesion and mechanical toughness.

“Perovskite solar cells offer a route to lowering the cost of solar electricity given their high power conversion efficiencies and low manufacturing cost,” said Dr. Yanfa Yan, UToledo Distinguished University Professor of physics and a member of the UToledo Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization. “However, we needed to strengthen the emerging solar cell technology’s endurance during outdoor operation”. The technology needs to survive for decades outdoors in all kinds of weather and temperatures without corroding or breaking down.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 19,2023