Perovskite, or calcium titanate, is currently a big hit in the organic solar cell research community

Spray-painting perovskite to cut costs of solar cells

Sheffield University researchers have created solar cells by spray-painting promising material perovskite on substrate, paving the way for future, cheaper organic solar cells.

Combining relatively high efficiency and low cost, perovskite is currently a hit in the organic solar cells research community.

First demonstrated in 2012, perovskite-based photovoltaics offer up to 19 per cent efficiency, which is 9 per cent more than the best of currently certified organic solar cells and only 6 per cent less than the best silicon-based solar panels, which currently dominate the solar energy market.

“The perovskite devices we have created still use similar structures to organic cells,” said Professor David Lidzey, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Sheffield University, who led the research.

“What we have done is replace the key light absorbing layer - the organic layer - with a spray-painted perovskite. Using a perovskite absorber instead of an organic absorber gives a significant boost in terms of efficiency.”

The spray-painting technique is not only convenient but also promises considerable cost reduction as only a little of the material is wasted. The method could also be easily scaled up to high volume manufacturing – similar to applying paint to cars and graphic printing.

Compared with the current number one material in solar cell production – silicon – manufacturing of perovskite requires much less energy, making the perovskite business case even stronger.

The prototype device developed by Sheffield University team offers 11 per cent efficiency.

“This study advances existing work where the perovskite layer has been deposited from solution using laboratory scale techniques,” said Professor Lidzey. “It’s a significant step towards efficient, low-cost solar cell devices made using high volume roll-to-roll processing methods.”

Solar power is becoming an increasingly important component of the world-wide renewables energy market and continues to grow at a remarkable rate despite the difficult economic environment.

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