Spray-on solar cells (Day 81)

Spray-on solar cells (Day 81)

16th August 2014

In an earlier blog I discussed charities working to alleviate energy poverty by building a new economy around solar power.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Department of Physics and Astronomy have developed a method to produce spray-on perovskite solar cells.

This is very exciting as it offers a way of developing a low-cost method of producing solar energy cells.

Perovskite is the term for a particular mineral crystal structure, which has been developed to convert solar energy into electricity.

Perovskite based photovoltaics combine high efficiency with low material costs.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield indicate that spray-painting the perovskite material has little waste and could be easily scaled up, as per car manufacturing.

Traditional solar-cells are made from energy intensive materials, like silicon, but perovskite requires much less energy to engineer.

By spray-painting the perovskite the team hope to reduce the energy costs further.

Watch the spray-painting in action here:

The researchers spray the perovskite solar cells onto plastic semi conductors. The devices are currently smooth flat surfaces, but this technique could be applied to curved surfaces in the future.

I think there is huge scope to develop this technique to be applied to the surfaces of a variety of objects.

Now spray-on perovskite solar technology faces the challenges of removing lead from their cells whilst maintaining their efficiency at levels comparable with silicon solar technology.

By using spray-on perovskite cells the team were able to achieve efficiency of 11 per cent.

Professor David Lidzey, lead researcher, said “The best certified efficiencies from organic solar cells are around 10 per cent. Perovskite cells now have efficiencies of up to 19 per cent. This is not so far behind that of silicon at 25 per cent - the material that dominates the world-wide solar market.”

There are good signs that the efficiency of spray-on perovskite cells can be boosted in the future.

Lidzey said: “This study advances existing work where the perovskite layer has been deposited from solution using laboratory scale techniques. It’s a significant step towards efficient, low-cost solar cell devices made using high volume roll-to-roll processing methods.”

Congratulations to all the team at the University of Sheffield for this exciting research!