Solar energy has long been considered the most sustainable option for replacing our dependence on fossil fuels, but technologies for converting solar energy into electricity must be both efficient and inexpensive.
Scientists believe they’ve found a winning formula in a new method to fabricate low-cost high-efficiency solar cells.
Scientists developed the cells using the materials and compounds that mimic the crystalline structure of the naturally occurring mineral perovskite. Today, most commercial solar cells are made from crystalline silicon, which has a relatively high efficiency of around 22%. Though silicon, the raw material for these solar cells, is abundant, processing it tends to be complex and shoots up the manufacturing costs, making the finished product expensive.
Perovskite offers a more affordable solution.
Research on perovskite cells is very promising. In only nine years, the efficiency of these cells went from 3.8 % to 23.3%. Other technologies have taken over 30 years of research to reach the same level.
Research team produces perovskite solar cells with an efficiency comparable to crystalline silicon cells, but it is potentially much cheaper than making silicon solar cells.
To make the new cells, the researchers coated transparent conductive substrates with perovskite films that absorb sunlight very efficiently.
They used a gas-solid reaction-based technique in which the substrate is first coated with a layer of hydrogen lead triiodide incorporated with a small amount of chlorine ions and methylamine gas — allowing them to reproducibly make large uniform panels, each consisting of multiple solar cells.