The solar industry, whose ultimate drive is to find replacements for the non-renewable resources, is changing the market of energy solutions. Kai Zhu, U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) worked hard for years to increase the efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells. David Moore, a staff scientist at NREL has pioneered a way to apply perovskites onto a surface like paint. There are a few challenges left to be overcome before the commercialization of perovskite technologies.
Moore stated that, “We need to make sure they’re going to last 30 years. But the strides we’re making in those areas are just as rapid as the progress we made with efficiency in the first five years. Just based on the progression of both of those things, there’s every reason to believe that we’ll continue on that path to solve those problems and you’ll start to see perovskite solar cells that you can buy.”
A perovskite solar cell includes a perovskite structured compound, most commonly a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material, as the light-harvesting active layer. This method will surely replace the common process for making perovskite solar cells in the lab, i.e., depositing some drops of the necessary chemicals onto a glass substrate, spinning that around so the liquid coats it, heating it over a hot plate, and waiting until it dries.
Silicon has remained the dominant technology in the solar industry, which has been seen as a costly solution. Perovskites absorb energy from the sun in a solar cell, which knocks electrons free. Electricity is generated as the electrons move back toward their original locations while moving through layers above and below the perovskite. The laws of physics put the theoretical maximum efficiency for a single-junction solar cell at 33%. This shows that about 1/3rd of energy from the sun can be converted into electricity.
However, perovskite solar cell promises to be inexpensive and highly efficient.
Did You Know?
- The name ‘perovskite solar cell’ is derived from the ABX3 crystal structure of the absorber materials, which is referred to as perovskite structure
- The most commonly studied perovskite absorber is methylammonium lead trihalide (CH3NH3PbX3, where X is a halogen atom such as iodine, bromine or chlorine)