International research collaboration generates all-perovskite tandem solar cell with high efficiency, record voltage

Nov 16, 2022 12:55 PM ET
  • A collaboration between University of Toronto Engineering, Northwestern University and also the University of Toledo has led to an all-perovskite tandem solar cell with exceptionally high effectiveness as well as record-setting voltage.
International research collaboration generates all-perovskite tandem solar cell with high efficiency, record voltage
Image: Aaron Demeter / University of Toronto Engineering

The prototype gadget shows the capacity of this emerging photovoltaic technology to get over key limitations associated with traditional silicon solar cells, while also offering a lower manufacturing price.

" Additional enhancements in the effectiveness of solar cells are crucial for the ongoing decarbonization of our economic situation," claims University of Toronto Engineering Teacher Ted Sargent, who recently joined the Department of Chemistry and also the Department of Electrical as well as Computer Engineering at Northwestern University.

" While silicon solar cells have actually undergone remarkable advancements recently, there are integral limitations to their efficiency as well as cost, emerging from material residential properties. Perovskite technology can get rid of these constraints, but until now, it had actually carried out below its full possibility. Our most current research identifies a key reason for this and directs a way forward."

Standard solar cells are made from wafers of very high-purity silicon, which is vigorously costly to create. By contrast, perovskite solar cells are constructed from nano-sized crystals that can be distributed into a liquid and also spin-coated onto a surface utilizing low-cost, well-established techniques.

An additional advantage of perovskites is that by changing the thickness and also chemical composition of the crystal films, suppliers can uniquely 'tune' the wavelengths of light that get absorbed and also exchanged electrical power, whereas silicon always absorbs the same part of the solar spectrum.

In a new paper published today in Nature, the worldwide group of researchers utilized 2 various layers of perovskite, each tuned to a different part of the solar spectrum, to generate what is called a tandem solar cell.

" In our cell, the top perovskite layer has a bigger band void, which absorbs well in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, in addition to some noticeable light," says Chongwen Li, a postdoctoral scientist in Sargent's laboratory and also one of five co-lead authors on the new paper.

" The bottom layer has a narrow band void, which is tuned more toward the infrared part of the spectrum. In between both, we cover even more of the spectrum than would be possible with silicon."

The tandem style makes it possible for the cell to create a really high open-circuit voltage, which in turn improves its performance. But the key development came when the team assessed the user interface between the perovskite layer, where light is absorbed as well as changed right into excited electrons, and also the adjacent layer, known as the electron transportation layer.

" What we discovered is that the electrical field across the surface of the perovskite layer-- we call it the surface potential-- was not uniform," states Ph.D. student Aidan Maxwell, another co-lead author.

" The impact of this was that in some locations, excited electrons were relocating quickly into the electron transport layer, but in others, they would just recombine with the holes they left behind. Those electrons were being shed to the circuit."

To resolve this difficulty, the team coated a substance referred to as 1,3-propanediammonium (PDA) onto the surface of the perovskite layer. Though the coating was only a few nanometers in density, it made a big distinction.

" PDA has a favorable charge, and also it is able to level the surface capacity," claims postdoctoral fellow Hao Chen, another of the co-lead authors.

" When we added the coating, we got far better energised alignment of the perovskite layer with the electron transport layer, and that led to a large enhancement on our total performance."

The team's prototype solar cell procedures one square centimeter in location, as well as generates an open-circuit voltage of 2.19 electron volts, which is a record for all-perovskite tandem solar cells. Its power conversion performance was gauged at 27.4%, which is higher than the current record for typical single-junction silicon solar cells. The cell was additionally individually certified at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, delivering an effectiveness of 26.3%.

The team made use of sector standard methods to determine the stability of the new cell and also discovered that it preserved 86% of its first performance after 500 hours of continual operation.

" Remaining to progress the performance as well as security of next-generation solar cells is a crucial concern for decarbonizing the electrical power supply," claims Teacher Alberto Salleo, Chair of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University, who was not associated with the research study.

" The group created a deep chemical understanding of what was limiting a crucial interface-- the junction with the electron-extracting layer-- in the large-bandgap portion of perovskite solar cells. These insights from fundamental scientific research, acted upon with innovative products engineering strategies, will certainly continue to drive the field forward."

The scientists will now concentrate on further enhancing performance by boosting the current that runs through the cell, improving stability, and also expanding the area of the cell so that it can be scaled up to commercial proportions.

The recognition of the key role played by the user interfaces between layers also points the way toward possible future enhancements.

" In this work, we've concentrated on the user interface in between the perovskite layer and also the electron transport layer, however there is an additional crucial layer that draws out the 'holes' those electrons leave behind," states Sargent.

" Among the fascinating points in my experience with this field is that discovering to master one user interface doesn't necessarily instruct you the regulations for grasping the other interfaces. I believe there's whole lots extra discovery to be done."

Maxwell states that the capacity of perovskite modern technology to hold its own against silicon, despite the fact that the latter has had a multi-decade running start, is urging.

" In the last ten years, perovskite modern technology has come nearly as for silicon has in the last 40," he says. "Simply picture what it will certainly have the ability to do in another ten years."

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