Method to stabilise promising material for cheaper next-gen solar cells

Published on
December 27, 2021

Researchers from University of Cambridge in collaboration with the Imperial College of London, the University of Leeds and Wageningen University & Research have developed a method to stabilise the most promising perovskite material for cheap solar cells, while keeping its performance. Perovskite is a crystal-like material that offers a cheaper alternative to silicon for producing light-detecting devices such as solar cells and LEDs.

Halide perovskites are a promising candidate for the next generation of clean-energy producing photovoltaic (PV) technologies. Technologies that converse electricity into light. Halide perovskites are low in cost, have facile fabrication and outstanding semiconductor properties. However, the efficiency of photovoltaic devices made by perovskites are still below practical limits and partial long-term stability hinder their practical application.

Nanoscale performance

Dr. Ruggeri from Wageningen University & Research, within the Chairs of Organic Chemistry and Physical Chemistry, in collaboration with Dr. Sam Stranks at the University of Cambridge, has contributed to understand how halide organic cations aka positively-charged ions, such as methylammonium (MA) and formamidinium (FA), affects the performances of perovskites materials at the nanoscale. While at the macroscopic scale these materials appear stable, a heterogeneous distribution of the organic cations at the microscopic scale causes instability. This limitation in performances can only be characterised by nanoscale approaches.

Advanced Chemical Analysis

In particular, in this study, Dr. Ruggeri has applied an advanced technique called infrared nanospectroscopy (AFM-IR) to map within a thin layer of perovskite material, down to 10 nm spatial resolution, the chemical distribution of the organic cations of FA and MA that fundamentally modify and affect the performances of this promising materials. Overall, the contribution of Dr. Ruggeri and Wageningen University & Research, paves the way for the future and more in detail nanoscale chemical characterisation of perovskites and new materials for clean-energy production.

New Materials for Energy Harvesting

Finally, the scientists in Cambridge have engineered a new class of FA- and MA-free perovskites, based on surface-bound ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, that was extremely stable against thermal, environmental, and light stressors.

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