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Perovskite Solar Cells Yielding More Power

efficient solar cell
This mineral could hold the key to cheap, efficient solar cells. Image:
James St. John

Perovskites is currently all the rage in solar cell technology and researchers have found a way to make them even more efficient.

Perovskite is a type of mineral formed in the earths mantle and is an excellent light harvester. Manufacturers are particularly interested in using perovskites in solar cell development as it is cheaper to produce than the traditional silicon based cells.

Researchers from the University of Washington have closely analyzed perovskite to find ways to improve solar cell efficiency using a technique called confocal optical microscopy. They found that perovskites have “dark patches” that do not harvest light as well. More importantly they discovered that by applying a simple chemical treatment these dark patches can be “turned on”.

“Surprisingly, this result shows that even what are being called good, or highly-efficient perovskite films today still are ‘bad’ compared to what they could be. This provides a clear target for future researchers seeking to improve and grow the materials,” states David Ginger, professor of chemistry and associate director of the UW’s Clean Energy Institute.

This imaging technique to discover these flaws (which cannot usually be detected) and the easy solution paves the way for not only better solar cells but improved LED lighting and lasers. There are over 1000 laboratories around the world currently researching the semiconducting properties of perovskite materials.

“There are so many of us focusing on perovskites, so hopefully this technique will offer some new direction and steer us toward the places we can look to optimize their energy-capturing and emitting potential,” said UW doctoral student and lead author Dane deQuilettes.

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