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Physicists Offer Insight into Improving Perovskite Solar Cells

Physicists Offer Insight into Improving Perovskite Solar Cells
Solar panels. Photo credit: Flickr user zak zak. Used via Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0.

Physicists from the University of Texas at Austin and the Department of Energy (DOE) recently published a new study on how perovskite solar cells degrade, which could help improve the performance and durability of solar cells.

Keji Lai, assistant professor in the Department of Physics, and Elaine Li, associate professor in the Department of Physics, conducted the study in collaboration with researchers from the DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The paper, titled "Impact of Grain Boundaries on Efficiency and Stability of Organic-Inorganic Trihalide Perovskites," was published last December in Nature Communications.

Perovskites, which are any materials with the same type of crystal structure as calcium titanium oxide, usually have low production costs and are easy to manufacture. While perovskite solar cells pose a promising solution for future solar energy technology, they are not stable when exposed to air.

"Perovskite solar cells have to be carefully packaged in real devices, but even so, the material slowly degrades and loses its capability of energy conversion," Lai said.

According to Lai, the conventional wisdom is that this degradation begins at the grain boundaries, or the region separating two crystals (grains) in a solid crystalline material. However, the new study showed that the grains themselves shatter first, which suggests that researchers should target the surface of the perovskite solar cell to create better solar cells.

"Our findings indicate that it is more important for scientists and engineers to improve the quality of the crystal rather than to passivate the grain boundaries," Lai said. 

Read more: 

Daily Energy Insider: NREL, University of Texas research offers insight into how perovskite solar cells degrade

Solar Industry: Researchers Find 'Critical Factor' For Advancing Perovskite Solar Cells

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Wednesday, 21 February 2018

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