Researchers address the thermal instability of perovskite solar cells by developing a layer of nickel oxide nanoparticles, topped by a SAM

In an effort to tackle the challenge of perovskite solar cells' thermal instability, researchers at City University of Hong Kong (CityU), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Huazhong University of Science and Technology have developed a unique type of self-assembled monolayer, or SAM for short, and anchored it on a nickel oxide nanoparticles surface as a charge extraction layer. This method dramatically enhanced the thermal robustness of perovskite solar cells, according to Professor Zhu Zonglong of the Department of Chemistry at CityU.

“By introducing a thermally robust charge extraction layer, our improved cells retain over 90% of their efficiency, boasting an impressive efficiency rate of 25.6%, even after operated under high temperatures, around (65℃) for over 1,000 hours. This is a milestone achievement,” said Professor Zhu.


The CityU team has focused on the self-assembled monolayer (SAM), an essential part of these cells, and envisioned it as a heat-sensitive shield that needed reinforcement.

“We discovered that high-temperature exposure can cause the chemical bonds within SAM molecules to fracture, negatively impacting device performance. So our solution was akin to adding a heat-resistant armor - a layer of nickel oxide nanoparticles, topped by a SAM, achieved through an integration of various experimental approaches and theoretical calculations,” Professor Zhu said.

The research team introduced an innovative solution: anchoring the SAM onto an inherently stable nickel oxide surface, thereby enhancing the SAM's binding energy on the substrate. Also, they synthesized a new SAM molecule of their own, creating an innovative molecule that promotes more efficient charge extraction in perovskite devices.

The primary outcome of the research is the potential to promote the solar energy industry by improving the thermal stability of perovskite solar cells. The team has laid the foundation for these cells to perform efficiently even in high-temperature conditions.

“This breakthrough is pivotal as it addresses a major obstacle that previously impeded wider adoption of perovskite solar cells. Our findings could significantly broaden the utilization of these cells, pushing their application boundaries to environments and climates where high temperatures were a deterrent,” said Professor Zhu.

Posted: Oct 21,2023 by Roni Peleg