Stanford scientists develop ultrafast method to produce perovskite solar modules

Nov 26, 2020 03:59 PM ET
  • High-speed production might progress the commercialization of perovskite modules, a green option to standard solar panels constructed from silicon.
Stanford scientists develop ultrafast method to produce perovskite solar modules

Most solar cells today are made with refined silicon that turns sunshine into clean power. However, the procedure of refining silicon is far from tidy, needing large quantities of power from carbon-emitting power plants.

For a greener option to silicon, researchers have focused on thin-film perovskites-- low-cost, adaptable solar cells that can be produced with minimal power as well as practically no CO2 exhausts.

While perovskite solar cells are encouraging, considerable challenges need to be dealt with prior to they can become prevalent, not the very least of which is their integral instability, which makes producing them at scale tough.

" Perovskite solar modern technology goes to a crossroads in between commercialization and also flimflammery," said Stanford University postdoctoral scholar Nick Rolston. "Millions of bucks are being poured into start-ups. But I highly believe that in the following 3 years, if there isn't a breakthrough that expands cell life times, that money will certainly begin to run out."

That's why a brand-new perovskite manufacturing process developed at Stanford is so exciting, Rolston claimed. In a new research, released in the Nov. 25 concern of the journal Joule, he and also his associates show an ultrafast means to create steady perovskite cells and assemble them into solar modules that can power devices, buildings and even the electrical power grid.

" This work supplies a brand-new landmark for perovskite manufacturing," said research study elderly author Reinhold Dauskardt, the Ruth G. as well as William K. Bowes Professor in the Stanford School of Engineering. "It fixes several of one of the most awesome barriers to module-scale production that the area has been handling for years."

Fingernail-size samples

Perovskite solar cells are slim movies of artificial crystalline made from inexpensive, plentiful chemicals like iodine, carbon and lead.

Thin-film cells are lightweight, flexible and also can be expanded in outdoor research laboratories at temperatures near the boiling point of water, an unlike the 3,000-degree Fahrenheit (1,650-degree Celsius) heating systems required to fine-tune commercial silicon.

Researchers have established perovskite cells that convert 25 percent of sunshine to electrical energy, a conversion efficiency equivalent to silicon. Yet these speculative cells are not likely to be installed on rooftops anytime quickly.

" Most work done on perovskites includes really small locations of active, usable solar cell. They're typically a fraction of the size of your pinky finger nail," stated Rolston, who co-lead the study with William Scheideler, a former Stanford postdoctoral scholar currently at Dartmouth College.

Efforts to make larger cells have actually produced defects and pinholes that substantially lower cell efficiency. And also unlike stiff silicon cells, which last 20 to 30 years, thin-film perovskite eventually degrades when revealed to warmth and also wetness.

" You can make a tiny presentation tool in the lab," Dauskardt claimed. "But standard perovskite processing isn't scalable for fast, reliable manufacturing."

Record-setting cpu

To resolve the difficulty of large production, the Dauskardt team released a copyrighted technology they recently invented called rapid-spray plasma handling.

This technology uses a robot tool with 2 nozzles to quickly generate thin movies of perovskite. One nozzle spray-coats a fluid option of perovskite chemical precursors onto a pane of glass, while the other releases a burst of very responsive ionized gas called plasma.

" Conventional processing needs you to bake the perovskite option for concerning half an hour," Rolston stated. "Our technology is to use a plasma high-energy source to swiftly convert fluid perovskite into a thin-film solar cell in a single action."

Using rapid-spray processing, the Stanford group was able to generate 40 feet (12 meters) of perovskite movie per min-- regarding four times faster than it takes to manufacture a silicon cell.

" We accomplished the greatest throughput of any type of solar innovation," Rolston said. "You can picture huge panels of glass put on rollers and also continually generating layers of perovskite at speeds never accomplished before."

Along with a record production price, the recently minted perovskite cells accomplished a power conversion efficiency of 18 percent.

" We intend to make this procedure as suitable and also broadly useful as possible," Rolston claimed. "A plasma treatment system might seem expensive, but it's something you can purchase commercially for a very sensible expense."

The Stanford team estimated that their perovskite modules can be made for around 25 cents per square foot-- much less than the $2.50 approximately per square foot needed to generate a regular silicon module.

Solar modules

Silicon solar cells are usually connected together in encapsulated modules to boost their power result and withstand harsh weather conditions. Perovskite makers will at some point have to build secure, efficient modules to be commercially viable.

Toward this end, the Stanford team successfully produced perovskite modules that continued to operate at 15.5 percent performance even after being left on the shelf for 5 months.

Traditional silicon modules create power at a cost of concerning 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. To take on silicon, perovskite modules would have to be encapsulated in a weatherproof layer that stays out dampness for at least a years. The study group is currently checking out brand-new encapsulation modern technologies and other methods to considerably improve toughness.

" If we can build a perovskite module that lasts 30 years, we can reduce the cost of power below 2 cents per kilowatt-hour," Rolston claimed. "At that price, we can use perovskites for utility-scale power manufacturing. For example, a 100-megawatt solar farm."