Focus on chemistry to improve perovskite solar panels

Tuesday, 28 June, 2022

Focus on chemistry to improve perovskite solar panels

By focusing on the chemistry of solar panels, rather than mechanical and electrical components, researchers from the University of Surrey have overcome a key obstacle on the path to mass production of next-generation perovskite solar panels.

Perovskite materials are widely considered to be the successor to silicon because they are lightweight and far cheaper to produce. However, the promise of perovskite has yet to be realised because of the difficulty of replicating lab results in mass production.

Working in collaboration with Imperial College London, the University of Nottingham, London South Bank University, University College London and Fluxim, the Surrey researchers found that fusing perovskite materials with an element called Ferrocene dramatically increases the efficiency of perovskite-based solar panels. Their research has been published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

“Our research scales these perovskite cells to a minute level, focusing on the chemical compounds and their specific problems,” said project lead Thomas Webb, from the University of Surrey. “For example, normal practice is to coat, or ‘dope’, cells in lithium, but lithium absorbs water, increasing energy deficiency over time.

“We discovered an element within organometallic chemistry called Ferrocene that significantly improves efficiency and stabilises the drop in energy that all solar panels have over time. Not to mention it is cheap to produce and solves the water absorption problem.”

Surrey’s Dr Wei Zhang, the primary supervisor of the research and co-project lead, said, “Perovskite materials are without a doubt the next generation of photovoltaic technologies. There is still a long way to go to ensure these can be implemented on a mass scale, but with these results, we are a generous step closer to making this a reality.”

Surrey’s Professor Stephen Sweeney, the co-supervisor of the research, concluded, “This is a key development to advance this important new material system at a time when dependable renewable energy sources are of critical global importance.”

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