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Research Maximizes Solar Cell Production

In an article published this month in Science Advances (2019, 5, eaav8925, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav8925), researchers in the Huang Group at the University of North Carolina’s department of Applied Physical Sciences unveiled new methods for producing low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells and discussed the implications these findings have on the future of clean, renewable energy.

Perovskite solar cells have become increasingly popular subjects of research, due to their high solar-to-electricity conversion efficiencies and printability. However, commercialization has been limited by difficulties in scaling production, as well as questions of long-term stability.

“Perovskite solar cells can make electricity cheaper as an emerging clean and renewable energy source, but only if they can be made efficiently and at low-cost,” principal investigator, Jinsong Huang said.

The Huang Group addressed these concerns and others by identifying a series of low-cost, multifunctional organic molecules as important ingredients in perovskite ink. The blade-coated perovskite solar cells incorporated with bilateral alkylamine additives exhibited unprecedented resistance to moisture, greatly reduced energy loss, and attained extremely high solar-to-electricity conversion efficiencies up to 23 percent. Most important of all, these high efficiency solar cells are made by high throughput fabrication method of blade coating, making them very attractive for mass production of perovskite solar panels.  Huang group is working with Energy Materials Corporation to scale-up the production of perovskite modules.

Huang likens the fabrication process of perovskite solar cells to that of printing a newspaper, and notes that these findings strengthen the potential for the method to be a faster and more-economic route towards accessible renewable energy than commonly used alternatives.

“This research can make perovskite solar cells more efficient than that of conventional silicon solar cells, which dramatically reduces the cost for clean and renewable energy,” Huang said. “This study will enable us to integrate the perovskite solar cells into portable electronic products and appliances, such as wireless chargers, solar backpacks, and solar-powered keyboards.”