Scientists and researchers around the world have been trying to increase the efficiency of solar cells. Perovskites with its properties could just be the right ingredient to spur the development of next-generation of low-cost and highly efficient solar cells.
The researchers at Iowa State University have come up with an innovative way to stabilize perovskite cells at high temperatures. They have developed a technique that has made the material more stable at higher temperatures.
One of the main problems with today’s solar cells is low efficiency in converting solar energy to electrical energy. This is apparent when we consider the fact that the efficiency of commercial solar cells is just 15%, and this is not a very high number.
This has led researchers to look elsewhere, and they have started looking at perovskite materials as an excellent alternative to silicon cells. The efficiency of perovskite cells is increasing gradually and is now in the range of 25%, which is not bad. But the thing that goes against perovskite cells is that it breaks when exposed to high temperatures, and this makes it challenging to deploy them in areas that have lots of sunshine, like deserts and arid places in America Southwest, Australia, the Middle East, and India.
In this light, the developments at the Iowa State University acquire more significance and point to a step in the direction of commercialization of perovskite cells.
“These are promising results in pursuit of the commercialization of perovskite solar cell materials and a cleaner, greener future,” said Harshavardhan Gaonkar, one of the authors of the research paper and an engineer for ON Semiconductor.
According to Vikram Dalal, director of Iowa State’s Microelectronics Research Center and co-author of the research paper, the engineers have made some changes to the perovskite material. They have substituted cations with inorganic materials such as cesium, and this has made the material stable at high temperatures.
The researchers have also developed an innovative technique that builds a very fine layer of perovskite material at a time, and this vapor deposition technique is already in use in other industries. There are chances that it can be scaled up for commercial production soon.
“Our perovskite solar cells show no thermal degradation even at 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit) for over three days, temperatures far more than what the solar cell would have to endure in real-world environments,” added Gaonkar.
The paper noted that the conversion efficiency of new inorganic perovskite cells is just 11.8%, and a lot of work still needs to be done to achieve greater efficiency. The engineers even replaced iodine with bromine in perovskite materials, and this made cells less sensitive to moisture, but at the same, it reduced the overall efficiency.
So, there’s still a lot of work to be put in by the engineers and researchers before inorganic perovskite materials gain wider adoption.
Recently, Australian scientists, led by members of the ARC Center of Excellence in Exciton Science, announced that they have succeeded in producing semi-transparent perovskite solar cells that generate electricity. This breakthrough could allow for windows in buildings and automobiles to generate electricity.
In February this year, the researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) came up with a technology that could sequester the minuscule quantity of lead used in developing perovskite solar cells. The perovskite cells face obstacles regarding the lead toxicity, which is impeding its wider adoption.
Image Credit: Iowa State university
Rakesh is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Prior to joining Mercom, he worked in many roles as a business correspondent, assistant editor, senior content writer, and sub-editor with bcfocus.com, CIOReview/Silicon India, Verbinden Communication, and Bangalore Bias. Rakesh holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).