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Discovery could improve the lifespan of next-generation solar cells

A team of researchers at the University of Toledo have jumped a major hurdle standing in the way of the commercialisation of high-efficiency solar cells.

University of Toledo physicists might have solved the problem with the durability of perovskite solar cells, taking the technology one step closer to powering solar panels in the consumer market.

The team discovered the ingredient that enhances adhesion and mechanical toughness.

Researchers experimentally demonstrated that perovskite solar cells treated with 1,3-bis(diphenylphosphino)propane (DPPP), exhibited greater durability than traditional solar cells. 

The discovery could be key to improving the resilience of solar cells. Perovskite solar panels could be easily deposited onto most surfaces, including flexible and textured ones. The materials are also lightweight, cheap to produce, and as efficient as today’s leading photovoltaic materials, which are mainly silicon.

However, it currently faces issues with stability and a short lifespan which decreases further in high humidity, strong sunlight and at elevated temperatures.

“This challenge is no longer a roadblock to deploying the potential of perovskite solar cells,” said Dr Yanfa Yan, a member of the research team. “Our breakthrough work improved device stability and presents ways of achieving success after a decade of research and development.”

If successful, the discovery could clear the path for the commercialisation of new photovoltaic technology to replace silicon and lower the cost of solar electricity. 

“Phosphine-containing Lewis base molecules with two electron-donating atoms have a strong binding with the perovskite surface,” Yan said. “We saw the robust beneficial effects on perovskite film quality and device performance when we treated the perovskite solar cells with DPPP.

“DPPP is also a commercialised product with low cost and easy accessibility, which make it suitable for the commercialisation of perovskite solar cells,” said Dr Zhaoning Song, another member of the research team. 

The researchers say the next step to move the technology forward is to employ their findings to make perovskite panels stable.

The findings of their experiments have been published in the journal Nature

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