Researchers from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania have found that metal chalcogenide perovskites can be used as a thermoelectric material that can convert thermal energy from the sun to usable electric power.

Metal chalcogenide perovskites, with their nontoxic elemental composition, are known to offer greater thermal and aqueous stability than organic-inorganic halide perovskites. This means that they may be more suitable than other materials in the perovskite family to address the two biggest issues in commercial solar cell production: low thermal stability and toxicity.

The team is now trying to map the lattice thermal energy transport mechanism of chalcogenide perovskite for solar energy use. The material, also known as CaZrSe3, has particularly strong potential for solar energy applications, the researchers said, because it can also be used for waste heat recovery, as a thermoelectric material than can convert thermal energy from the sun to usable electric power. “These materials have an ABX3 crystal structure and possess good optical and electronic properties, conducive for promising thermoelectric performance,” the scientists said.



Although the study only focused on the material’s thermoelectrical properties, CaZrSe3 has also been proposed for PV applications, especially for thin-film single-junction solar cells. In an earlier study, the same Lehigh University researchers said that chalcogenide possesses an optimum band gap of 1.40 eV for single junction photovoltaic applications.

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