Scientists at The University of Manchester have developed a way to increase the environmental safety of perovskite solar cells by eliminating the lead release from broken cells. Using a bioinspired mineral called hydroxyapatite, a major constituent of human bone, they have created a ‘failsafe’ which captures the lead ions in an inorganic matrix. As a result, if cells are damaged, toxins are stored in an inert mineral, rather than released in the environment.
Unlike silicon solar cells, perovskite solar cells can be mass produced through roll-to-roll processing. Additionally, they are light and can be used in non-traditional settings such as windows and contoured roofs. However, up until now, application has been impacted by potential environmental risks. Perovskite solar cells contain lead, a cumulative toxin, and if the cells get damaged, lead ions may leak.