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A Safer, Greener Way to Make Solar Cells

SPECIFIC / SUNRISE PhD student Carys Worsley tells us about her first paper as lead author. Carys’ research replaced a psychoactive and toxic solvent currently used in perovskite solar cell manufacture with a new green solvent without impacting cell performance.

We find out more:

0.08 – What is the paper about?

My name is Carys. I work at Swansea University as a PhD student and I’ve recently published some work on a novel green solvent for 3rd generation solar cells. It basically replaces a psychoactive and toxic solvent that is currently used in these devices.

0.27 – Why is it important?

I think there’s a couple of reasons why it’s important. So, first and foremost it’s a green solvent. I think it’s really important to develop these technologies in conjunction with finding green and non toxic things so we don’t have problems further down the line. But also the solvents that are currently used are restricted in some countries which hampers researcher access to materials and can be a big problem to scientific research. So this solvent will overcome the problems that some researchers currently have with getting materials.

1.01 – Can it be upscaled?

So this is perfect for upscaling. If anything this solvent is much better for upscaling than the previous solvents that we used. So either you’ve got the choice at the moment between a very highly toxic solvent which obviously isn’t ideal in a large scale setting or you have the choice of GBL which is psychoactive and legally restricted which introduces a lot of legislative costs. Another advantage of this solvent is that it also is more stable in inks so when it comes to printing and things like that you don’t get so many equipment failures, you don’t get any blockages of your nozzles and things like that.

1.39 – What are you working on next?

We’re working on making the system better. We’re looking at mixed solvent systems, we’re looking at applying other different green solvents as mixtures to make the cells better. We’re also looking at scale up at the same time. So the devices that we’ve made so far have been quite small scale, whereas obviously further down the line you’re looking at larger scale modules, so Ipad size modules or even 30 x 30cm2. From a commercial perspective that’s much better.

The paper, γ‐Valerolactone: A Nontoxic Green Solvent for Highly Stable Printed Mesoporous Perovskite Solar Cells was published in the journal Energy Technology. Authors: Carys Worsley, Dimitrios Raptis, Simone Meroni, Alexander Doolin, Rodrigo Garcia‐Rodriguez, Matthew Davies and Trystan Watson.

The research was made possible with funding from the SUNRISE project, funded by UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund and through funding of the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, Innovate UK, and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

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