Solar cells benefit from disorganised perovskite materials

Solar cell
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Research from the University of Cambridge suggests that the disorganised production of perovskite materials increase the efficiency of the next generation of solar cells.

Scientist have been studying perovskite materials to be used in the next generation of solar cells and flexible LEDs. The research team discovered that the cells can be more efficient when their chemical composition is disorganised. These findings vastly simplify production processes while also lowering overall costs.

Led by Dr Felix Deschler and Dr Sam Stranks, the new research paper was published in the academic journal Nature Photonics.

Crystalline silicon is the most commonly used material in the production of solar panels. To achieve efficient energy conversion using crystalline silicone it requires an expensive and time-consuming production process. This is material needs to have a highly ordered wafer structure and is incredibly sensitive to impurities like dust.

The main salts used to make perovskite are far more abundant and cheaper than those used to produce crystalline silicone and can be prepared in a liquid ink that is simply printed to produce a film of the material.

The components used to make the perovskite can be altered to give the materials different colours and structural properties, for example, making the films emit different colours or collect sunlight more efficiently.

“This is the new class of semiconductors that could actually revolutionise all these technologies,” said Sascha Feldmann, a PhD student at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory.

“These materials show very efficient emission when you excite them with energy sources like light or apply a voltage to run an LED.

“This is really useful but it remained unclear why these materials that we process in our labs so much more crudely than these clean-room, high-purity silicon wafers, are performing so well.”

“The discovery was a big surprise really,” said Deschler, who is now leading an Emmy-Noether research group at TU Munich. “We do a lot of spectroscopy to explore the working mechanisms of our materials, and were wondering why these really quite chemically messy films were performing so exceptionally well.”

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