Swansea University receives £800,000 funding to test perovskite solar cells for developing countries

A Swansea University-led project which will help communities in developing countries to generate their own solar power has been awarded £800,000 by the UK government. The money will be used to construct prototype buildings and support collaboration between experts from five countries – India, Kazakhstan, Mexico, South Africa, and the UK.

While perovskite solar cells should be cheap to produce, use widely-available materials and be flexible with the ability to be printed directly onto a base, the task taken on is to show that this technology can be manufactured and used effectively on actual buildings in developing countries. This is where the SUNRISE project and this new funding comes in.

New technique enables researchers map strain in perovskite solar cells

Researchers from the University of Washington and the FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in the Netherlands have developed a way to illuminate strain in lead halide perovskite solar cells without harming them.

Their approach succeeded in imaging the grain structure of a perovskite solar cell, showing that misorientation between microscopic perovskite crystals is the primary contributor to the buildup of strain within the solar cell. Crystal misorientation creates small-scale defects in the grain structure, which interrupt the transport of electrons within the solar cell and lead to heat loss through a process known as non-radiative recombination.

Perovskites may help fight global plastic pollution

A multi-institutional team of scientists has designed a new catalytic method in order to battle plastic pollution on a global scale. The team's new catalytic method could prove useful for selectively converting discarded plastics into higher quality products.

The catalyst of platinum nanoparticle/perovskite nanocuboid transforms discarded plastics into a higher value product  image

"We asked ourselves the question, ​‘Plastic, plastic everywhere: What can we do about it in terms of chemical recycling?’” said Max Delferro, group leader of the Catalysis Science Program in the Chemical Sciences and Engineering division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory. ​“So, we assembled a talented team with DOE’s Ames Laboratory and researchers from top universities to provide a solution.” The partners from academia included Northwestern University, Cornell University, University of South Carolina and University of California, Santa Barbara".

Perovskites may be used for various thermoelectric applications

A Cornell-led team of scientists has discovered a crystalline material with ultralow thermal conductivity, which could lead to the design of novel energy conversion materials and devices.

After studying a popular hybrid perovskite and identifying the mechanisms for its low thermal conductivity, Zhiting Tian, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell, turned her attention to a hybrid perovskite analogue, methylammonium bismuth iodide (CH3NH3)3Bi2I9, which she hypothesized would have an even lower thermal conductivity because of the unique disconnected structure of its inorganic molecules.

Addition of biological material boosts performance of perovskite solar cells

An international team of researchers, including ones from Penn State, Columbia University, University of Toledo, Northeastern University in the U.S and Carl von Ossietzky University in Germany, designed next-gen solar cells that mimic photosynthesis with a biological material, by adding the protein bacteriorhodopsin (bR) to perovskite solar cells.

Power conversion efficiency (PCE) distribution of bR-incorporated PSC imagePower conversion efficiency (PCE) distribution of bR-incorporated PSC based on statistics of 15 devices, with average efficiency of 16.34 %. Image from ACS article

“These findings open the door for the development of a cheaper, more environmentally friendly bioperovskite solar cell technology,” said Shashank Priya, associate vice president for research and professor of materials science at Penn State. “In the future, we may essentially replace some expensive chemicals inside solar cells with relatively cheaper natural materials.”