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Novel solar panel material to increase efficiency and reduce costs

Scientists from the EU-funded MESO project have developed a new solar-panel material that is able to drastically reduce manufacturing costs whilst achieving a competitive power-conversion efficiency of over 20 %.

The project, due to run until October 2016, aims to develop a new class of low-cost solution hybrid solar cells based on metal halide perovskite. This ‘heterojunction’ solar cell technology has already proven to be remarkably efficient but has tremendous scope to compete with the best crystalline semiconductor and thin film technologies in terms of efficiency gains. Perovskite-based solar cells use expensive ‘hole-transporting’ materials, whose function is to move the positive charges that are generated when light hits the pereovskite film. New MESO FDT hole-transporting material Now the MESO (Meso-superstructured Hybrid Solar Cells) project team has engineered a considerably cheaper hole-transporting material that costs only a fifth of existing ones whilst keeping solar cell efficiency above 20 %. The researchers are now looking for other ways to improve overall solar cell performance as the quality of perovskite film has increased. This has led them to concentrate on the hole-transporting layer of the cell and specifically, the materials that are used to construct them. At present, there are only two hole-transporting materials available for perovskite cells and both are costly to produce, adding to each solar panel’s overall manufacturing costs if they use these materials. To address this, the MESO team developed a molecularly-engineered hole-transporting material, called FDT, which can be produced at a fifth of the cost of existing materials. Following extensive tests, it was shown that FDT’s efficiency rose to 20.2 %, which was actually higher than the other two more expensive alternatives. Wider potential for FDT Most promisingly, FDT is easily modifiable, and as a result can be used as a blueprint for an entirely new generation of low-cost hole-transporting materials. Buoyed by these highly encouraging results, MESO researchers are now hoping to be able to fully commercialise this novel perovskite technology, as well as enable it to surpass the international standard thin film solar cell environmental stressing certification. Alongside its potential for the construction of efficient and low-cost solar panels, perovskite technology could also be integrated the Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) sector. This is due to the fact that there is now a significant drive towards the construction of low-impact buildings that can generate their own power locally to reach zero emissions. For more information, please see: CORDIS project page for MESO


United Kingdom

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