One of the fastest-growing areas of solar energy research is with perskovite materials. These promising light harvesters could revolutionise the solar and electronics industries with their potential to convert sunlight into electricity more efficiently and less expensively than today’s silicon-based semiconductors.
These superefficient crystal structures have taken the scientific community by storm in the past few years because they can be processed very inexpensively and can be used in applications ranging from solar cells to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) found in phones and computer monitors.
A new study published online April 30 in the journal Science (“Impact of microstructure on local carrier lifetime in perovskite solar cells”) by University of Washington and University of Oxford researchers demonstrates that perovskite materials, generally believed to be uniform in composition, actually contain flaws that can be engineered to improve solar devices even further.
The quality of the perovskite materials for electronic device applications improved after chemical treatment, remediating the “dark” areas. (Image: University of Washington)
“Perovskites are the fastest-growing class of photovoltaic material over the past four years,” said lead author Dane deQuilettes, a UW doctoral student working with David Ginger, professor of chemistry and associate director of the UW Clean Energy Institute.
“In that short amount of time, the ability of these materials to convert sunlight directly into electricity is approaching that of today’s silicon-based solar cells, rivaling technology that took 50 years to develop,” deQuilettes said. “But we also suspect there is room for improvement.”
The research team used high-powered imaging techniques to find defects in the perovskite films that limit the movement of charges and, therefore, limit the efficiency of the devices. Perovskite solar cells have so far have achieved efficiencies of roughly 20 percent, compared to about 25 percent for silicon-based solar cells.
Read more about this research at Nanowerk News
Find out more about Vacuum instrumentation used in solar cell research today.
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