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Next generation solar cells

Today’s commercially available silicon panels account for around 90 % of total solar panel production. However, alternative solar technologies such as thin films (particularly perovskite solar cells) are developing rapidly.
Next generation solar cells
Renewables are considered the best energy source for reducing pollution and mitigating climate change. Because of its unrivalled potential the use of solar energy photovoltaics (PV) has become the subject of intense research, development and deployment efforts, making the PV industry the largest optoelectronic sector in the world.

The EU-funded project MESO-SUPERCELLS (Novel meso-superstructured solar cells with enhanced performance and stability) investigated perovskite solar cells in order to predict jumps in power input. Perovskite solar cells are based on a highly crystalline perovskite absorber with intense visible to near-infrared absorptivity. This ′meso-superstructured solar cell′ (MSSC) exhibits exceptionally low loss of energy, while demonstrating a power conversion efficiency of 10.9 %.

Researchers were able to identify a crystallization enhancement for the perovskite, which improved the quality of the semiconductor, thereby enhancing the performance of the solar cell device and improving reproducibility. This work also highlighted the need to achieve entirely electronically homogenous polycrystalline thin films.

Scientists also sought a deeper understanding of the fundamental processes and mechanisms underlying the operation of this type of solar cell. Thus, different systems were studied in detail, revealing the need to control doping levels in order to attain a highly stabilized power output. It was also found that the mesostructured cells play a specific electronic role, possibly in enhancing the doping of the perovskite.

Furthermore, the crystallization kinetics affects the recombination dynamics of flat heterojunction solar cells. It was found that recombination can be severely suppressed by using a fast-crystallization agent, even though the grain size is generally small. Researchers also investigated the use of lead-free perovskites, based on tin and germanium, to combat lead toxicity and the use of environmentally friendly solvents to dissolve perovskite components.

MESO-SUPERCELLS results will help to make the commercialisation of perovskite solar cells technology a reality, thereby supporting European research efforts towards clean and efficient energy by helping to deliver reliable ′low carbon′ solar electricity. The project also promotes the excellence of the European Research area by building the strongest photovoltaic research community in the field of 3rd generation solar cells.

These achievements will help to fight energy poverty and increase economic prosperity for the entire world and will be of particular interest to solar energy technologists, regulators, decision-makers and environmental groups.

Related information

Keywords

Perovskite solar cells, photovoltaics, MESO-SUPERCELLS, meso-superstructured solar cell, polycrystalline thin films
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