An innovative method for implementing the technology of perovskite solar cells

Due to their high productivity and cheap production costs, perovskite solar cells have great potential as a future energy technology. However, due to the difficulty of scaling from small laboratory devices to large-scale modules or panels needed for commercial use, researchers are finding it difficult to bring this potential photovoltaic technology to commercial use.

The application of a self-assembled monolayer allows tight interfacial contact between the substrate and the perovskite layer with a perovskite coating, which allows improved photovoltaic performance and stability of the device. Image Credit: Nano Research Energy.

A research team has shown that using the blade coating approach, a self-assembled monolayer can be used to produce a large area of ​​perovskite film, encouraging the scale of perovskite photovoltaic technology. The researchers hope that their innovative approach will allow the commercialization of perovskite solar cell technology.

On May 12you2022, the team published its findings in Nano research energy.

Photovoltaic solar cells transform light energy into electricity with the help of semiconductors. Silicon is the main semiconductor material used in solar cells since the 1950s. However, the development of massive silicon crystals, as required by traditional solar panels, requires expensive and time-consuming manufacturing procedures. Perovskites have been used by scientists to create semiconductors with silicon-like characteristics.

Perovskites with their unique crystal structure are named after a mineral with a similar structure. Perovskites can be made at a lower cost and with less energy than silicon. Perovskite solar cells are also light and adaptable, which allows them to be used in areas such as windows and curved roofs. The world record for the efficiency of perovskite solar cells is 25.7%, which compares the efficiency of that of silicon solar cells.

Perovskite solar cells are produced by depositing layers of material on an underlying layer called a substrate. The researchers found that the surface characteristics of the substrate were crucial for the large area coating and the development of perovskite in developing the approach for high-speed coating with perovskite thin film deposition blades. This method leaves cavities in the buried interface of the perovskite layer, which has a negative impact on the performance of the device.

To solve this problem, we tested various materials for transporting holes and found that self-assembled monolayers are a class of promising materials for scaling up perovskite devices..

Alex Jen, Professor, City University, Hong Kong

Organic molecules are arranged in an ordered array in self-assembled monolayers. They have a functional head group that can bind to the substrate and an attachment group that can passivate the perovskite defects from above. These self-assembled monolayer molecules act as linkers, tightening the bond between the substrate and the perovskite layers, and eliminating intermediate gaps.

In addition, since the self-assembled monolayer is a monolayer, the charge carriers can be extracted from the perovskite to the substrate electrode efficiently by tunneling the charge, leading to improved device performance.

Alex Jen, Professor, City University, Hong Kong

Due to the small amount of material required, these functional self-assembled monolayers, which can be treated in solution, are particularly cost-effective. Self-assembled monolayers are effective when it comes to controlling the development of perovskite and passivation of any potential defects.

This new class of materials is very promising for facilitating the scaling up of perovskite photovoltaic technology..

Alex Jen, Professor, City University, Hong Kong

Researchers suggest using a variety of self-assembled monolayer molecules adapted to enhance perovskite solar technology in future experiments. The team wants to engineer the composition of perovskite precursors to enhance coating techniques in addition to further research into the design and synthesis of self-assembled monolayer molecules. It is crucial to understand how perovskite and self-assembled monolayers interact.

The Perovskite coating must be homogeneous and free of defects in order to create highly efficient and reliable solar modules. “We believe that our research will help reduce the gap between laboratory and plant to facilitate the commercialization of perovskite photovoltaic technology.“Jen added.

Jie Zeng, Leyu Bi, Yuanhang Cheng and Alex K.-Y. Jen from Hong Kong City University; and Baoming Xu of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, make up the research team.

This study was supported by an APRC grant from the Hong Kong City University and a grant from the GRF from the Hong Kong Research Council.

Reference in the magazine:

Zeng, J., et al. (2022) Self-assembled monolayer allowing improved buried interfaces in perovskite solar cells with perovskite coating for high efficiency and stability. Nano research energy.


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