Non-toxic solvent removes barrier commercialisation perovskite solar cells

Researchers develop non-toxic solvent to produce perovskite solar cells

12:00 PM, 18th October 2016
Non-toxic solvent removes barrier to commercialisation of perovskite solar cells

OXFORD, UK: Researchers at Oxford University have created a solvent system with reduced or less toxicity that can be utilized in the production of perovskite solar cells, clearing one of the barriers to the commercialization of a technology that guarantees to change the solar industry.

Perovskites – a group of materials with the crystal structure of calcium titanate – have been illustrated as a 'wonder material' and revealed to be almost effective as silicon in harnessing solar energy and also being essentially less expensive to produce.

By merging methylamine and acetonitrile, scientists created a clean solvent with a low boiling point and low viscosity that quickly crystallises perovskite films at room temperature and could be used to help coat large solar panels with the material.

The results are published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.

“Right now, there are three major solvents utilized in the manufacture of perovskite solar cells, and they are all toxic, which means you wouldn't want to come into contact with them,” said Dr Nakita Noel of Oxford’s Department of Physics, lead author of the study.

Dr Noel added: 'What is truly energizing about this leap forward is that to a great extent decreasing the toxicity of the solvent hasn't led to a reduction in the efficiency of the material in harnessing solar energy.

In current years, perovskite-based solar cells have raced to the front of emerging photovoltaics, already competing on efficiency against well-established solar technologies such as the inorganic thin-film and multi-crystalline silicon used in solar panels around the world. Perovskites also have the shortest 'energy payback time' – the time taken for a material to save the same amount of energy that was expended in its production. It has been said that the sun supplies enough power in 90 minutes to meet the world’s total energy needs for a year

Study co-author Dr Bernard Wenger, also of Oxford’s Department of Physics, said: 'While we are probably still a few years from seeing perovskite-based solar panels on people's roofs, this is a big step along the way.'

Professor Henry Snaith, senior author on the paper and leader of the photovoltaics group at Oxford, has been a pioneer in the development of perovskite solar cells and was one of the first researchers to recognise their potential as a low-cost, highly efficient material for this purpose.

© Oxford University News

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