Perovskite solar cells' behavior under real-world conditions is tested - in the lab

Researchers at the lab of Anders Hagfeldt at EPFL, working with colleagues at the lab of Michael Grätzel, brought real-world conditions into the controlled environment of the lab. Using data from a weather station near Lausanne (Switzerland), they reproduced the real-world temperature and irradiance profiles from specific days during the course of the year, to test PSCs in real-world conditions.

PSCs tested for real world conditions in the lab image

With this approach, the scientists were able to quantify the energy yield of the devices under realistic conditions. “This is what ultimately counts for the real-world application of solar cells," says Dr. Wolfgang Tress from EPFL.

Phosphorene may enable more sustainable and efficient perovskite solar cells

An international team of clean chemistry researchers, led by Professor Joseph Shapter and Flinders University, has made very thin phosphorene nanosheets for low-temperature perovskite solar cells (PSCs) using the rapid shear stress of the University’s revolutionary vortex fluidic device (VFD). This new nanomaterial made from phosphorus, may turn out to be a key ingredient for more sustainable and efficient next-generation PSCs.

“Silicon is currently the standard for rooftop solar, and other solar panels, but they take a lot of energy to produce them. They are not as sustainable as these newer options,” says adjunct Professor Shapter, now at University of Queensland.

Researchers use copper iodide to stabilize perovskite solar cells

A team of Russian-Italian researchers is exploring the use of copper iodide (CuI) as a way to improve the stability of perovskite solar cells. The team from Russia-based institutes NUST MISIS and IPCE RAS, and Italy’s University of Rome Tor Vergata, has applied an additional layer of p-type copper iodide semiconductor, made of molecule of methylammonium lead iodine (MAPbI3), to a perovskite cell for efficient surface passivation.

Researchers use CuI to stabilize PSCs image

According to the authors, the MAPbI3 photoactive layer crystallizes on the surface of a p-type transport layer carrying positive charges and does not demonstrate rapid degradation when exposed to light when accompanied by the release of iodine compounds similar to the used perovskite material. “As we know, under constant illumination and subsequent heating of perovskite solar cells with a photoactive layer of MAPbI3, free iodine and hydrogen acid are released, which harms the interface between the layers of perovskite and NiO, forming a set of defects and significantly reducing the stability and performance of the device”, said Danila Saranin, researcher at NUST MISIS Laboratory for Advanced Solar Energy.

Adding “self-healing” polymer may prevent lead leakage

Researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have found that a protective layer of epoxy resin helps prevent the leakage of pollutants from perovskite solar cells (PSCs). Adding a “self-healing” polymer to the top of a PSC can drastically reduce how much lead it discharges into the environment. This may give a boost to prospects for commercializing the technology.

A protective layer of epoxy resin helps prevent the leakage of pollutants from perovskite solar cells

“Although PSCs are efficient at converting sunlight into electricity at an affordable cost, the fact that they contain lead raises considerable environmental concern,” explains Professor Yabing Qi, head of the Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit, who led the study. "While so-called ‘lead-free’ technology is worth exploring, it has not yet achieved efficiency and stability comparable to lead-based approaches. Finding ways of using lead in PSCs while keeping it from leaking into the environment, therefore, is a crucial step for commercialization.”

New process yields oxide perovskite crystals in flexible, free-standing layers

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine and other institutions have developed a new process for producing oxide perovskite crystals in flexible, free-standing layers.

“Through our successful fabrication of ultrathin perovskite oxides down to the monolayer limit, we’ve created a new class of two-dimensional materials,” said co-author Xiaoqing Pan, professor of materials science & engineering at UCI. “Since these crystals have strongly correlated effects, we anticipate they will exhibit qualities similar to graphene that will be foundational to next-generation energy and information technologies.”