Researchers at SPECIFIC have removed the need for a controlled atmosphere during fabrication of perovskite solar cells. This will make them easier to manufacture at scale, bringing the technology closer to commercial viability.
Perovskite shows great promise in solar power because it is low cost and highly efficient at converting sunlight into electricity, even in low-light countries like the UK. It is also printable, which means that solar cells can be applied to building materials such as glass and steel at the point of manufacture.
The new method developed by Dr Joel Troughton and his colleagues Dr Katherine Hooper and Dr Trystan Watson developed uses ethyl acetate, a chemical compound found in products like wine, decaffeinated tea or coffee and nail polish remover, to ‘suck’ moisture away from the perovskite as it is laid down.
Dr Troughton said “Perovskite is partially soluble in water, so the best cells are made in an environment where there is no humidity. In the lab this is usually done in a nitrogen-filled atmosphere, but that is not practical if you have to make enough to cover a building. It is both expensive and limits the size of the module we can make.”
The resulting solar modules were high quality, and comparable in efficiency to those produced in the nitrogen atmosphere even when made in very wet atmospheres up to 75% humidity.
“This is a significant step in our efforts to make printed solar cells a commercial reality” Dr Troughton added. “It is only by removing complex processing steps, reducing costs and enabling large scale manufacture that promising new solar technology like this will reach our homes and buildings.”
The work was published in Nano Energy and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.