Perovskite: A New Material for Solar Cells

In a recent issue of Solar Today Sima Yezrour interviewed Dr. Jao van de Lagemaat of the US National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) about perovskite solar cells, a promising new technology. NREL is investigating this material, and assembles and authoritative database of “certified” results.

Peroskite (puh-rof-skahyt) is material has a complicated crystalline structure with “a hybrid organic/inorganic motif”. Thin films of perovskite are highly efficient photo voltaic devices, with 15-20% or more efficiency.

Perovskite results, orange circle. Best to date is approximately 22%. (Source: NREL)

An important characteristic is that perovskite is simple to process through surface deposition techniques, which means it should be inexpensive and can be used on flexible materials.

The interview explains that there are several important improvements needed to make the current state of the technology practical. Perovskite is water soluble and sensitive to heat. It will be necessary to encapsulate and seal the vulnerable material from the environment.

Perovskite contains lead, so it will be necessary to encapsulate and recycle the materials. This is not a show stopper, because the amount of lead is small, “the lead in a single car battery is enough for hundreds of square meters of perovskite solar cells.” In addition, it may possible to find ways to substitute other, less dangerous, metals for  lead.

The deposition process is simple and requires relatively little energy, which is a cost advantage and also assures that the technology will be environmentally reasonable.

It’s early days still, but perovskite is a promising technology.

It’s also a good name for a dog, no? “Perovskite! Heal, boy!”


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