Nav: Home

High-performance solar cells: Physicists grow stable perovskite layers

November 08, 2018

Crystalline perovskite cells are the key to cutting-edge thin-film solar cells. Although they already achieve very high levels of efficiency in the laboratory, commercial applications are hampered by the fact that the material is still too unstable. Furthermore, there is no reliable industrial production process for perovskites. In a new study published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, physicists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) present an approach that could solve this problem. They also describe in detail how perovskites form and decay. The results could help produce high-performance solar cells in the future.

Perovskites are currently receiving a great deal of attention in the solar industry. In 2009, researchers were first able to prove that organic-inorganic compounds with a special perovskite crystal structure are good absorbers that can effectively convert sunlight into electricity. Within just a few years, the efficiency of perovskite solar cells was increased to well over 20 percent in the laboratory. "Although modern, monocrystalline silicon solar cells achieve slightly better values, they are much harder to manufacture and they have been under development for a much longer time," says Dr Paul Pistor, a physicist at MLU and lead author of the study. Currently, however, there are no market-ready perovskite-based solar cells as there is no established process for the large-scale production of perovskites. In addition, the thin crystal layers are rather unstable and sensitive to environmental influences. "High temperatures or humidity cause the perovskites to decompose and lose their ability to convert sunlight into electricity," says Pistor. Yet, solar cells have to withstand elevated temperatures because they are permanently exposed to the sun.

In their study, the physicists from Halle investigated a special, inorganic perovskite consisting of caesium, lead and bromine or iodine. Instead of using the usual wet-chemical processes to produce the perovskites, they deployed a process that is already widely used in industry to produce thin layers and a range of components. In a vacuum chamber, precursor materials are heated up until they evaporate. Then, the perovskite condenses on a colder glass substrate and a thin crystalline layer grows. "The advantage of this method is that every part of the process can be very well controlled. This way, the layers grow very homogenous and the thickness and composition of the crystals can be easily adjusted," explains Pistor. His team was thus able to produce perovskite layers based on caesium that didn't decompose until they reached temperatures of 360 degrees Celsius. Using cutting-edge X-ray analysis, the researchers also analysed the growth and decay processes of the crystals in real time.

The results provide important insights into the underlying properties of perovskites and point to a process that may be suitable for the industrial realisation of modern perovskite-based solar cell technology.
-end-
The study appeared online as an accepted manuscript on August 7 ahead of its final publication in the vol. 9 issue no. 16, which was released on August 16, 2018.

Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Related Solar Cells Articles:

Solar cells more efficient thanks to new material standing on edge
Researchers from Lund University in Sweden and from Fudan University in China have successfully designed a new structural organization using the promising solar cell material perovskite.
Printable solar cells just got a little closer
A University of Toronto Engineering innovation could make printing solar cells as easy and inexpensive as printing a newspaper.
A big nano boost for solar cells
Solar cells convert light into electricity. While the sun is one source of light, the burning of natural resources like oil and natural gas can also be harnessed.
Game changer for organic solar cells
Researchers develop a simple processing technique that could cut the cost of organic photovoltaics and wearable electronics.
Physics, photosynthesis and solar cells
A University of California, Riverside assistant professor has combined photosynthesis and physics to make a key discovery that could help make solar cells more efficient.
Throwing new light on printed organic solar cells
Researchers at the University of Surrey have achieved record power conversion efficiencies for large area organic solar cells.
A new way to image solar cells in 3-D
Berkeley Lab scientists have developed a way to use optical microscopy to map thin-film solar cells in 3-D as they absorb photons.
Toward 'greener,' inexpensive solar cells
Solar panels are proliferating across the globe to help reduce the world's dependency on fossil fuels.
A new technique opens up advanced solar cells
Using a novel spectroscopic technique, EPFL scientists have made a much-needed breakthrough in cutting-edge photovoltaics.
OU physicists developing new systems for next generation solar cells
University of Oklahoma physicists are developing novel technologies with the potential to impact utility-scale energy generation, increase global energy capacity and reduce dependence on fossil fuels by producing a new generation of high efficiency solar cells.

Related Solar Cells Reading:

Physics of Solar Cells: From Basic Principles to Advanced Concepts (No Longer Used)
by Peter Würfel (Author), Uli Würfel (Author)

PHYSICS OF SOLAR CELLS, THE (Properties of Semiconductor Materials)
by Jenny Nelson (Author)

Build A Solar Hydrogen Fuel Cell System
by Phillip Hurley (Author)

The Physics of Solar Cells: Perovskites, Organics, and Photovoltaic Fundamentals
by Juan Bisquert (Author)

Solar Cells: Operating Principles, Technology, and System Applications (Prentice-Hall series in solid state physical electronics)
by Martin A. Green (Author)

Perovskite Solar Cells Principle, Materials and Devices (Series on Chemistry, Energy and the Environment)
by Eric Wei-Guang Diau (Author), Eric Wei-Guang Diau (Editor), Peter Chao-Yu Chen (Editor)

Thermal Design: Heat Sinks, Thermoelectrics, Heat Pipes, Compact Heat Exchangers, and Solar Cells
by H. S. Lee (Author)

The Complete Guide About Solar Energy: A Practical Beginners Guide To Solar Panels, Cells and Electricity
by Russel Hobbs (Author)

Advanced Concepts for Solar Cells
by P. Pérez Rodríguez (Author)

Materials Concepts For Solar Cells (Energy Futures)
by Thomas Dittrich (Author)

Best Science Podcasts 2018

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2018. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Where Joy Hides
When we focus so much on achievement and success, it's easy to lose sight of joy. This hour, TED speakers search for joy in unexpected places, and explain why it's crucial to a fulfilling life. Speakers include inventor Simone Giertz, designer Ingrid Fetell Lee, journalist David Baron, and musician Meklit Hadero.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#500 500th Episode
This week we turn 500! To celebrate, we're taking the opportunity to go off format, talk about the journey through 500 episodes, and answer questions from our lovely listeners. Join hosts Bethany Brookshire and Rachelle Saunders as we talk through the show's history, how we've grown and changed, and what we love about the Science for the People. Here's to 500 more episodes!