Perovskites Pass the Heat Test to Offer a Viable Alternative to Silicon Solar Cells

Researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) claimed to have achieved a significant milestone through the first-ever successful damp-heat test of perovskite solar cells.

The damp-heat test is an accelerated environmental aging test aimed at determining the ability of solar panels to withstand prolonged exposure to high humidity and elevated temperatures.

The experiment was performed under a controlled environment with humidity in the region of 85% and a temperature of 85 degrees Celsius. It was an ideal way to replicate the outdoor test conditions to evaluate factors such as corrosion and delamination.

According to the study, the new technology must meet the requirements of stability and scalability before it can be commercialized.

Developed through a film-coating process, perovskites are vulnerable to the infiltration of external agents like moisture, thus compromising the ability of the solar cells to deal with heat.

The researchers at KAUST found that introducing a 2-D passivation layer blocked the moisture, enhanced solar cells’ efficiency, and prolonged the lifetime of the perovskite solar cells.

The study points out that the technology used in perovskites is thin-film technology. Unlike silicon wafers, perovskite ink can be coated directly on a glass substrate, coupled with antisolvent extraction, followed by thermal annealing to crystallize the perovskite film.

The perovskite ink is formulated from a mixture of salts in a polar aprotic solvent at a low temperature.

One of the main advantages of perovskites is that the cells can be made without using an energy-intensive environment with temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees Celsius, which is typical for semiconductors like silicon.

“It’s a very simple way to make solar cells. While the optoelectronic properties are not unique, they are excellent. They’re on par with very high-quality traditional semiconductors. That’s quite remarkable,” said Steefan De Wolf, professor at KAUST.

As the stability of the cells has been achieved, another thing that comes into the picture is scalability.

Most solar cell applications cater to the utility-scale sector and the rooftop segment. While the latter is not prominent in Saudi Arabia, utility-scale projects are being pursued in the kingdom on a large scale.

“The market is silicon-based, and it will be silicon-based for the next 20 years at least. The KAUST Lab is mainly focused on improving the performance of perovskite cells to advance efficient solutions, pairing both traditional silicon and perovskites,” added Wolf.

Recently, researchers at the International Advanced Research Center for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials, India, claimed that they had increased the efficiency and stability of Titanium dioxide (TiO2)-nanorods-based perovskite solar cells using a new process.

Earlier, researchers from Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin had claimed that they had achieved a conversion efficiency record of 29.80% in a tandem solar cell made of perovskite and silicon. The result was certified by Fraunhofer ISE CalLab.