Nav: Home

Non-toxic solvent removes barrier to commercialization of perovskite solar cells

October 05, 2016

Scientists at Oxford University have developed a solvent system with reduced toxicity that can be used in the manufacture of perovskite solar cells, clearing one of the barriers to the commercialisation of a technology that promises to revolutionise the solar industry.

Perovskites - a family of materials with the crystal structure of calcium titanate - have been described as a 'wonder material' and shown to be almost as efficient as silicon in harnessing solar energy, as well as being significantly cheaper to produce.

By combining methylamine and acetonitrile, researchers have developed a clean solvent with a low boiling point and low viscosity that quickly crystallises perovskite films at room temperature and could be used to help coat large solar panels with the material.

The results are published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Energy & Environmental Science.

Dr Nakita Noel of Oxford's Department of Physics, lead author of the study, said: 'At the moment, there are three main solvents used in the manufacture of perovskite solar cells, and they are all toxic, which means you wouldn't want to come into contact with them.

'Additionally, the most efficient perovskite solar cells are currently made through a process called solvent quenching - a technique that is not easily transferred from lab-scale deposition techniques to large-scale deposition techniques. While vapour deposition of these materials can overcome this problem, it will come at additional costs. One of the main selling points of this material is that it is cheap and can be easily solution-processed.

'We have now developed the first clean, low-boiling-point, low-viscosity solvent for this purpose.'

Dr Noel added: 'What is really exciting about this breakthrough is that largely reducing the toxicity of the solvent hasn't led to a reduction in the efficiency of the material in harnessing solar energy.'

In recent years, perovskite-based solar cells have raced to the front of emerging photovoltaics, already competing on efficiency against well-established solar technologies such as the inorganic thin-film and multi-crystalline silicon used in solar panels around the world. Perovskites also have the shortest 'energy payback time' - the time taken for a material to save the same amount of energy that was expended in its production. It has been said that the sun supplies enough power in 90 minutes to meet the world's total energy needs for a year.

Study co-author Dr Bernard Wenger, also of Oxford's Department of Physics, said: 'While we are probably still a few years from seeing perovskite-based solar panels on people's roofs, this is a big step along the way.'

Professor Henry Snaith, senior author on the paper and leader of the photovoltaics group at Oxford, has been a pioneer in the development of perovskite solar cells and was one of the first researchers to recognise their potential as a low-cost, highly efficient material for this purpose.
-end-


University of Oxford

Related Solar Panels Articles:

Study: Even short-lived solar panels can be economically viable
A new study shows that, contrary to widespread belief within the solar power industry, new kinds of solar cells and panels don't necessarily have to last for 25 to 30 years in order to be economically viable in today's market.
Researchers develop a better way to harness the power of solar panels
Researchers at the University of Waterloo have developed a way to better harness the volume of energy collected by solar panels.
Installing solar panels on agricultural lands maximizes their efficiency, new study shows
A new study finds that if less than 1% of agricultural land was converted to solar panels, it would be sufficient to fulfill global electric energy demand.
Solar panels cast shade on agriculture in a good way
Combining solar panel (photovoltaic) infrastructure and agriculture creates a mutually beneficial relationship.
Solar energy becomes biofuel without solar cells
Soon we will be able to replace fossil fuels with a carbon-neutral product created from solar energy, carbon dioxide and water.
More Solar Panels News and Solar Panels Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...