Graphene for super cheap Perovskite solar cell
Graphene is an atom-thin layer of graphite that has unique and powerful electrical properties. Perovskite refers to any synthetic version of the naturally occurring mineral perovskite, which has amazing solar conversion potential.
As for how amazing that is, researchers like to enthuse over the rapid pace of improvement in synthetic perovskite solar technology so far, as an indicator of future progress:
Perovskites have demonstrated exceptional progress in PV cell performance — from 3.8% in 2009 to a certified 23.9 % in 2017. Remarkably, such high-efficiency perovskite solar cells can be made from polycrystalline materials by solution processing.
Perovskite don’t like humidity and they degrade under sunlight. That puts a severe crimp on their application in real world conditions. However researchers love a challenge, and the chase is on for a more durable version of the solar cell. The next CuSCN research has been published in Science.
Perovskite solar cells (PSC) with efficiencies >20% have only been realized with highly expensive organic hole-transporting materials. We demonstrate PSCs achieving stabilized efficiencies exceeding 20% with CuSCN as hole extraction layer using fast solvent removal method to create compact, highly conformal CuSCN layers that facilitate fast carrier extraction and collection. The PSCs showed high thermal stability under long term heating, however, their operational stability was poor. This instability originates from potential induced degradation of the CuSCN/Au contact. The addition of a conductive reduced graphene oxide spacer layer between CuSCN and gold allowed PSCs to retain >95% of their initial efficiency after aging at a maximum power point for 1000 hours at 60 Celsius. Importantly, under both continuous full-sun illumination and thermal stress, CuSCN based devices surpassed the stability of spiro-OMeTAD based PSCs…
Credit: M. Ibrahim Dar/EPFL.
According to the research team, the resulting stability surpasses that of the halide perovskite solar cells favored by many other researchers.
The tradeoff for improved efficiency and lower cost will be the need for protective lifecycle regulation, unless nontoxic substitutes can be developed.
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