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Slashing production costs of perovskite-based solar cells

Posted: 20 Jul 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Karlsruhe Institute of Technology  perovskite  solar cell  photovoltaics 

Researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have been working on solutions to reduce the production costs of perovskite-based solar cells under the 'NanoSolar' project that will run for the next three years.

Within five years, the efficiency of perovskite-based solar cells has increased considerably. Meanwhile, the cells convert more than 20 per cent of solar irradiation into electric power. Low material costs and small amounts of material required, thanks to the thin-film technology, make perovskite solar cells a promising alternative. Costs for the conversion of sunlight into electric power can be reduced. A major drawback of the technology, however, is the use of environmentally harmful lead compounds for the production of the perovskite crystals.

Perovskite-based solar cells

"We are looking for a way to apply non-toxic materials," said Alexander Colsmann who heads the organic photovoltaics unit of the KIT Light Technology Institute (LTI). The physicist pointed out that perovskite solar cells might not only be suited for large-scale electricity production, but also for decentralised power supply, if sustainable and environmentally friendly production processes can be established. "Thin-film solar cells have a very homogeneous appearance and, hence, can be used as facade cladding, for instance," said Colsmann. He emphasises that development of environmentally friendly perovskite solar cells is not only required for sustainability reasons, but also a major prerequisite for their economic success.

The project 'NanoSolar: Kontrollierte Abscheidung von Nanokristallen fur Perowskit-Solarzellen' (NanoSolar: Controlled Deposition of Nanocrystals for Perovskite Solar Cells) is carried out by scientists of the LTI unit of Colsmann and of the Institute for Inorganic Chemistry (unit of Claus Feldmann). The interdisciplinary team consists of physicists, chemists, material scientists and engineers. They want to specifically adjust nanoscaled crystal structures and to develop novel, environmentally friendly materials and processes for the production of perovskite and its integration into solar cells.

The researchers study the complete process from the synthesis of the materials to the demonstrator module, i.e. a functioning solar cell. Similar to organic solar cells, the perovskite solar cells are produced by printing and coating processes. 'NanoSolar' combines fundamental research with application-oriented science. To understand the fundamentals of the technology, the scientists study and optimise the structure-property relationship of the materials. The 'NanoSolar' project is scheduled for a duration of three years and supported with 530,000 euros by the Baden-Wurttemberg Foundation under the research programme 'Functional surfaces and materials for sustainable energy supply.'

- Paul Buckley
  EE Times Europe

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