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Tuesday, 11 Dec 2018

UK researchers develop A4 size perovskite solar cells

The entire fabrication process was carried out in air, at ambient conditions, without requiring the costly high-vacuum processes which are needed for silicon manufacture

Swansea University - Large-area perovskite solar cell

2 Oct 2018 | Editor

Researcher teams working for SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre led by Swansea University have developed a perovskite solar module the size of an A4 sheet of paper, which is nearly six times bigger than 10 cm x 10 cm modules of that type previously reported, by using simple and low-cost printing techniques.

The breakthrough shows that the technology works at a larger scale, not just in the lab, which is crucial for encouraging industry to take it up.

Each of the many individual cells forming the module is made of perovskite, a material of increasing interest to solar researchers as it can be made more easily and cheaply than silicon, the most commonly-used material for solar cells.

The Research team used an existing type of cell, a Carbon Perovskite Solar Cell (C-PSC), made of different layers - titania, zirconia and carbon on top - which are all printable.

Though their efficiency is lower than other perovskite cell types, C-PSCs do not degrade as quickly, having already proved over 1 year’s stable operation under illumination.

The Swansea team report the breakthrough comes from the optimisation of the printing process on glass substrates as large as an A4 sheet of paper. They ensured the patterned layers were perfectly aligned through a method called registration, well-known in the printing industry.

The entire fabrication process was carried out in air, at ambient conditions, without requiring the costly high-vacuum processes which are needed for silicon manufacture.

The Swansea research team achieved good performance for their modules:

  • up to 6.3% power conversion efficiency (PCE) when assessed against the "1 sun" standard, i.e. full simulated sunlight. This is world-leading for a C-PSC device of this size
  • 11% PCE at 200 lux, roughly equivalent to light levels in an average living room
  • 18% PCE at 1000 lux, equating to light levels in an average supermarket

The researchers said the high efficiency ratings under indoor lighting conditions demonstrate that this technology has potential not only for energy generation outdoors but also for powering small electronic devices – such as smartphones and sensors – indoors.

Swansea University | the solar cell module is made of different layers - titania, zirconia and carbon on top - which are all printable

Figure: Swansea University | the solar cell module is made of different layers - titania, zirconia and carbon on top - which are all printable

"Our work shows that perovskite solar cells can deliver good performance even when produced on a larger scale than reported so far within the scientific community. This is vital in making it economical and appealing for industry to manufacture them."


"The key to our success was the screen printing process. We optimised this to avoid defects caused by printing such large areas. Accurate registration of layers and patterning the blocking layer helped improve connections between cells, boosting overall performance."


"There is more work still to do, for example on increasing the active area - the percentage of the substrate surface that is actually used for producing power. We are already working on it."


"But this is an important breakthrough by our team, which can help pave the way for the next generation of solar cells"


Dr Francesca De Rossi, Technology transfer fellow at Swansea University's SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre

Funding for the research was provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the SPECIFIC project, and the Welsh Government.

All Printable Perovskite Solar Modules with 198 cm2 Active Area and Over 6% Efficiency

Francesca De Rossi | Jenny A. Baker | David Beynon | Katherine E. A. Hooper | Simone M. P. Meroni | Daniel Williams | Zhengfei Wei | Amrita Yasin | Cecile Charbonneau | Eifion H. Jewell | Trystan M. Watson

First published: 13 August 2018 | https://doi.org/10.1002/admt.201800156

Abstract

Perovskite solar cells based on an all printable mesoporous stack, made of overlapping titania, zirconia, and carbon layers, represent a promising device architecture for both simple, low‐cost manufacture, and outstanding stability. Here a breakthrough in the upscaling of this technology is reported: Screen printed modules on A4 sized conductive glass substrates, delivering power conversion efficiency (PCE) ranging from 3 to 5% at 1 sun on an unprecedented 198 cm2 active area. An increase in the PCE, due to higher VOC and fill factor, is demonstrated by patterning the TiO2 blocking layer. Furthermore, an unexpected increase of the performance is observed over time, while storing the modules in the dark, unencapsulated, at ambient conditions (with humidity increasing from 30 and 70% RH), resulting in 6.6% PCE and 6.3% stabilised at Vmax measured after over two months since fabrication. Equally impressive is the low light performance with 11 and 18% PCE achieved respectively at 200 and 1000 lux under fluorescent lighting. It is hoped that this demonstration of good performance on large area can unlock the viability of perovskite solar cells manufactured on an industrial scale.

www.swansea.ac.uk   

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