First perovskite solar cell to cross 30-year expected lifespan
Perovskite is poised to become a major material for solar cells, but before then it needs to overcome a major durability issue. Engineers at Princeton have unveiled a new perovskite solar cell design that tests suggest could last as long as 30 years of real-world use.
Silicon has been the go-to material for solar cells for decades, but in the last 15 years or so perovskites have been quickly catching up. They’re approaching the efficiency of silicon but are cheaper to make, lighter and more flexible.
The problem, however, is that perovskites aren’t very stable and tend to break down when exposed to the elements. Fixing that problem has been the focus of plenty of past work, with scientists experimenting with adding bulky molecules, old pigments or quantum dots.
In the new study, the Princeton team addressed the stability issue by adding an ultra-thin capping layer between the light-absorbing perovskite layer and the charge-carrying layer. Just a few atoms thick, this capping layer was made of carbon disulfide, lead, iodine and chlorine, and served to protect the device from burning out within a few weeks.
Other teams have added 2D layers to extend the lifespan of perovskite solar cells, but not to the degree of this new one. By the team’s estimate, perovskite solar cells made with this capping layer could last up to 30 years of outdoor operation, making it the first of its type to cross the commercial threshold of a 20-year lifetime.
A batch of perovskite solar cells sit under bright light in the accelerated aging chamber
Bumper DeJesus, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
The researchers calculated this lifespan using a new accelerated aging technique they developed to test the durability of solar cells. Batches of the solar cells were placed in experimental chambers where they were exposed to bright light and various temperatures, from a hot summer’s day of 35 °C (95 °F) right up to an extreme 110 °C (230 °F). From this data, the team could extrapolate to a lifetime of three decades under standard environmental conditions.
The team says that not only does the study provide a new way to make more durable perovskite solar cells, but the accelerated aging technique will help scientists test the durability of all kinds of solar cells.
The research was published in the journal Science.
Source: Princeton University
Michael has always been fascinated by space, technology, dinosaurs, and the weirder mysteries of physics and the universe. With a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing under his belt, he’s been writing for various online outlets and print publications for eight years, and New Atlas for the last three years.
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