Solar cells have just become more efficient

Last Updated: February 28th, 2022 First Published :

Perovskite solar cells

Like other thin-film technologies, perovskite solar cells have unique properties that make them attractive for reasons beyond their low-cost potential and energy production capabilities. A perovskite is any material that has the same crystal structure as the compound calcium titanium oxide. Solar cells made with perovskites work like any other solar cell. Thin-film panels are typically flexible, lightweight, and semi-transparent. All these properties can be tested in a metrology testing lab. From a design perspective, this makes perovskites highly appealing, as they appear much lower-profile than traditional silicon solar panels and can be incorporated into parts of buildings besides just the roof. Additionally, their lightweight nature means less physical stress on roofs, walls, or wherever they may be installed.

According to a research published in Nature Energy, on January 20, 2022, researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have set a new record in the power conversion efficiency of solar cells made from perovskite and organic materials. Since their inception, researchers have had a lot of faith in perovskite/organic tandem solar cells. Based on metrology testing lab calculations, scientists believe that they can beat the efficiencies of traditional silicon cells.

Figure: A material testing engineer checking the panels       Photo courtesy: Hoan Ngọc (Pexels)
Figure: A material testing engineer checking the panels       
Photo courtesy: Hoan Ngọc (Pexels)

Although they have been in development for far less time than silicon cells, perovskite/organic tandem cells have already reached lab efficiencies of 23.6 percent. 23.6 percent is a significant leap from the previous power conversion rate of about 20% reported by other studies. The power conversion rate of silicon solar cells is 26.7 percent, which is the dominating solar technology. New technology innovation needs competent metrology testing labs. “The main motivation of this study is to improve the power conversion efficiency of perovskite/organic tandem solar cells. In our latest work, we have demonstrated a power conversion efficiency of 23.6% – this is the best performance for this type of solar cell to date,” said Dr. Chen Wei, researcher of this work.

Perovskite solar cells are based on a man-made material that can be produced at a low cost. All such materials need to be evaluated at a suitable material testing lab. Standard solar PV cells are made with crystalline silicon, which has to be extracted from the earth and processed before it can be used to make high-quality solar cells. Perovskite cells are made through a process called “solution processing” which is the same practice used when printing out newspapers.

Thanks to solution processing, perovskite manufacturing is highly scalable, and production costs have the potential to be very low compared to other solar panel technologies. Suitable product testing lab may be employed for performance evaluation of manufactured perovskites. Lower production costs translate to low costs for consumers looking to go solar, and lowering the cost of installing solar makes it easier for anyone to take advantage of solar energy.

“Technologies for clean and renewable energy are extremely important for carbon reduction. Solar cells that directly convert solar energy into electricity are among the most promising clean energy technologies. The high power conversion efficiency of solar cells is critical for generating more electrical power using a limited area and this, in turn, reduces the total cost of generating solar energy,” explained lead researcher Presidential Young Professor Hou Yi, who is from the NUS Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and also leading a “Perovskite-based Multi-junction Solar Cells group” at the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore at NUS.

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