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.

Perovskite-image

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.

Perovskite-solar-cell

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 semi-transparent perovskite solar cells with 21.68% efficiency

Researchers from the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER), Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science, Jusung Engineering and the Jülich Research Center have reported an advancement in the stability and efficiency of semi-transparent perovskite solar cells.

The semi-transparent solar cells achieved an impressive efficiency of 21.68%, which is said to be the highest efficiency to date among perovskite solar cells that use transparent electrodes. Additionally, they showed remarkable durability, with over 99% of their initial efficiency maintained after 240 hours of operation.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 22,2024

Researchers develop triple-junction perovskite–perovskite–silicon solar cell with power conversion efficiency of 24.4%

Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute for Solar Energy Research Hamelin (ISFH) and Leibniz University Hannover have designed triple-junction perovskite–perovskite–silicon solar cells with a record power conversion efficiency of 24.4%. 

Schematic of the solar cell. Image from Energy & Environmental Science

Optimizing the light management of each perovskite sub-cell (∼1.84 and ∼1.52 eV for top and middle cells, respectively), the team maximized the current generation up to 11.6 mA cm−2. Key to this achievement was the development of a high-performance middle perovskite sub-cell, employing a stable pure-α-phase high-quality formamidinium lead iodide perovskite thin film (free of wrinkles, cracks, and pinholes). This enabled a high open-circuit voltage of 2.84 V in a triple junction. Non-encapsulated triple-junction devices retain up to 96.6% of their initial efficiency if stored in the dark at 85 °C for 1081 h.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 22,2024

Researchers develop novel lead-free antimony-based perovskite solar modules

Lead-halide perovskites hold great promise as the next generation of PVs, but unstable lead exposure through gas, water, and soil accumulation could have detrimental consequences if not properly controlled and recycled as perovskite use expands globally. There are also stability issues limiting operational lifetime for lead-perovskite devices themselves. Researchers have attempted to replace lead with slightly less toxic tin, but thus far tin-based perovskites still suffer from air instability. Without breakthroughs in stability and environmental safety, scaling perovskite solar technology could flood our waste stream with hazardous materials. Now, researchers from CHOSE (Centre for Hybrid and Organic Solar Energy) at the University of Rome Tor Vergata have addressed the concerns regarding toxicity and recyclability associated with the lead contained in perovskite solar cells. 

Image credit: ACS Energy Letters 

The scientists may have found a solution in a new lead-free antimony-based perovskite solar cell design. Their recent research demonstrates a mixed-cation perovskite-inspired material (PIM) that boosted efficiency by 81% compared to conventional cesium-only antimony solar cells, while also exhibiting unmatched stability.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 21,2024

Researchers use zinc additives for efficient perovskite solar minimodules

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and CubicPV have developed mini solar modules based on perovskite cells treated with zinc trifluoromethane sulfonate [Zn(OOSCF3)2]. The scientists found that using a small amount of this zinc salt in the perovskite solution can address the issue of interstitial iodides, which are the most critical type of defects in perovskite solar cells that limits efficiency and stability. The zinc salt helps control the iodide defects in resultant perovskites ink and films. 

The scientists explained that this is a low-cost material that is used as an additive at a very small percentage in perovskite inks and that its use makes perovskite module fabrication more reproducible, which helps to also make it cheaper.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 20,2024

Tata Chemicals enters strategic partnership with IITB-Monash for perovskites research

Tata Chemicals has announced a collaboration with IITB-Monash Research Academy for pioneering research in the field of perovskite/clean energy. The strategic partnership will aim to advance sustainable energy transition solutions and foster innovation in clean energy technologies.

Under this agreement, Tata Chemicals will support the next-generation technology research led by the IITB-Monash Research Academy focused on the transformative potential of perovskite materials in the field of clean energy.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 18,2024

Verde Technologies makes progress with coating technology in a pilot with Verico Technology

U.S-based University of Vermont spinoff, Verde Technologies, has reported progress with its thin film coating technology in a pilot with contract manufacturer Verico Technology, demonstrating that its coating processes are transferable to existing commercial roll-to-roll manufacturing lines.

The companies completed the deposition of perovskite solution on a flexible substrate measuring 76.2 cm x 6,096 cm using standard manufacturing processes, equipment, and environmental conditions. The novel coating tool and process received the name Verde Slot Coating.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 17,2024

Netherlands reveals details of incentive scheme for PV manufacturing

The Dutch government has drafted a public proposal to support the production of heterojunction and perovskite-silicon tandem modules, as well as building- and vehicle-integrated PV panels, with a maximum allocation of €70 million ($75.1 million) per solar manufacturing project. Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO), the state-run agency that manages the SDE++ program for renewable energy in the Netherlands, has publicly proposed the idea of supporting the production of solar panels, storage systems and electrolyzers. The new incentive scheme, “Investeringssubsidie maakindustrie klimaatneutrale economie” (IMKE), will fund a portion of the capital expenditure needed to build factories for the three clean energy technologies.

The RVO said that the incentives for the production of PV panels will be limited to products for building-integrated (BIPV) and vehicle-integrated (VIPV) applications, as well as heterojunction modules or perovskite-silicon tandem panels.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 16,2024

Researchers design MA-free inverted perovskite solar cells using charge-modulated molecular bonding

Researchers from Japan's National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) and Hokkaido University have designed an inverted “n-i-p” perovskite solar cell with a new bond/charge regulated defect passivation technique, enabled by introducing bifunctional molecules onto the perovskite absorber. The device exhibited a low open circuit voltage deficit and impressive stability.

The newly-fabricated solar cell with was based on a perovskite material that doesn't contain methylammonium (MA) molecules. These molecules have intrinsic thermal instability and contribute to increasing the typical thermal instability of perovskite PV devices.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 15,2024

Merida Aerospace to develop perovskite solar cells for use in space

Merida Aerospace, a Tampa-based aerospace company, has announced it is developing perovskite solar cells tailored for space applications, with a specific emphasis on enhancing performance and economy for low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites.

LEO satellites often rely on solar panels as their primary power source, capturing sunlight during orbital solar exposure for sustained operation. These panels enhance weight efficiency by reducing the need for excessive number of batteries, enabling autonomous function during intermittent access to sunlight while in low earth orbit.

Read the full story Posted: Feb 14,2024

Spotlight on the DIAMOND EU project

The DIAMOND project aims at developing ultra-stable, highly-efficient and low-cost perovskite photovoltaics with minimized environmental impact, promising stabilities far beyond all previous achievements of photovoltaic solar cells.

It was launched in October 5th, 2022, and is planned to continue until November 30th, 2025. 

Read the full story Posted: Feb 14,2024