A research team from City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and University of Washington recently developed a multifunctional and non-volatile additive which can improve the efficiency and stability of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) by modulating perovskite film growth.
The team explained that the additive can be used to modulate the kinetics of perovskite film growth through a hydrogen-bond-bridged intermediate phase. The additive enables the formation of large perovskite grains and coherent grain growth from bottom to the surface of the film. The enhanced film morphology reportedly results in significantly reduced non-radiative recombinations, thus boosting the power conversion efficiency of inverted (p–i–n) solar cells to 24.8% (24.5% certified) with a low energy loss of 0.36 eV. The unencapsulated devices exhibited improved thermal stability with a T98 lifetime beyond 1,000 h under continuous heating at 65 ± 5 °C in a nitrogen-filled glovebox. This effective approach can also be applied to wide-bandgap perovskites and large-area devices to show reduced voltage loss and high efficiency.
"This type of multifunctional additive can be generally used to make different perovskite compositions for fabricating highly efficient and stable perovskite solar cells. The high-quality perovskite films will enable the upscaling of large-area solar panels," said Professor Alex Jen Kwan-yue, Lee Shau Kee Chair Professor of Materials Science and Director of the Hong Kong Institute for Clean Energy at CityU, who led the study.
The efficiency and stability of PSCs are affected by the severe energy loss associated with defects embedded at the interfaces and grain boundaries of the perovskites. Therefore, the intrinsic quality of perovskite films plays a critical role in determining the achievable efficiency and stability of resulting PSCs. Although many previous research studies have focused on improving the film morphology and quality with volatile additives, these additives tend to escape from the film after annealing, creating a void at the perovskite-substrate interface.
To tackle these issues, the researchers developed a simple but effective strategy of modulating the perovskite film growth to enhance the film quality. They found that by adding a multifunctional molecule (4-guanidinobenzoic acid hydrochloride, (GBAC)) to the perovskite precursor, a hydrogen-bond-bridged intermediate phase is formed and modulates the crystallization to achieve high-quality perovskite films with large perovskite crystal grains and coherent grain growth from the bottom to the surface of the film. This molecule can also serve as an effective defect passivation linker (a method to reduce the defect density of perovskite film) in the annealed perovskite film due to its non-volatility, resulting in significantly reduced non-radiative recombination loss and improved film quality.
Their experiments showed that the defect density of perovskite films can be significantly reduced after introducing GBAC. The power conversion efficiency of inverted (p-i-n) perovskite solar cells based on the modified perovskites was boosted to 24.8% (24.5% certified by the Japan Electrical Safety & Environment Technology Laboratories), which is among the highest values reported in the literature. Also, the overall energy loss of the device was reduced to 0.36eV, representing one of the lowest energy losses among the PVSC devices with high power conversion efficiency. Additionally, the unencapsulated devices exhibited improved thermal stability beyond 1,000 hours under continuous heating at 65 ± 5°C in a nitrogen-filled glovebox while maintaining 98% of the original efficiency.
The team demonstrated the general applicability of this strategy for different perovskite compositions and large-area devices. For example, a larger area device (1 cm2) in the experiment delivered a high PCE of 22.7% with this strategy, indicating excellent potential for fabricating scalable, highly efficient PSCs.
"This work provides a clear path to achieving optimized perovskite film quality to facilitate the development of highly efficient and stable perovskite solar cells and their upscaling for practical applications," said Professor Jen.
In the future, the team aims to further extend the molecular structures and optimize the device structure through compositional and interfacial engineering. They will also focus on the fabrication of large-area devices.