Creating a better low-cost solar cell
Solar cells made with the mineral perovskite are very attractive as a means of producing green energy, largely because of their low cost. An EU-funded project set out to optimise these potentially revolutionary components to help bring renewable energy to a broader market.
© Eaknarin #175556195, 2019 source: stock.adobe.com
Solar energy has a key role to play as Europe and rest of the world transition towards a more sustainable, cleaner and renewable energy supply. Perovskite solar cells (PSCs) show great promise for harnessing that energy, although their design still needs to be refined.
The EU-funded GOTSOLAR project focused on better understanding and optimising the performance of PSCs, thereby helping to realise their full market potential.
Perovskite is applied over a glass substrate in a layer 350-400 nm thick which absorbs most of the sunlight converting it into electricity. This layer can display different colours, depending on its composition, but for the most efficient devices it is normally brown/black.
The resulting solar cells are low cost, both in the materials needed and because the deposition process used in their production slot-die coating technology which uses a blade to apply the perovskite solution is very simple and cheap.
The GOTSOLAR team set out to identify the best combination of materials and cell architectures, producing and testing a number of PSC variants, with the aim of maximising their energy-delivering performance and stability. The project also developed a unique laser-assisted glass-encapsulation system, which enables unprecedented stable and leak-free devices.
For research purposes, GOTSOLAR produced PSCs in relatively small quantities, but the project team also looked at how best to scale up the manufacturing process once optimal cell design has been achieved.
The projects ultimate goal was to produce a high-performance solar cell that will help to accelerate the deployment of solar cells across Europe, bringing affordable renewable energy to a mass market that has so far remained beyond the reach of conventional silicon-based solar cells.