Researchers have found a novel way to print perovskite solar cells easily and at a cost similar to bringing out a newspaper!

A team, led by Hairen Tan from University of Toronto Engineering found that the solar cells manufactured with perovskite mineral could lead to low-cost, printable solar panels capable of turning nearly any surface into a power generator.

“Economies of scale have greatly reduced the cost of silicon manufacturing,” Ted Sargent, an expert in emerging solar technologies, said in a university statement.

“Potentially, perovskites and silicon cells can be married to improve efficiency further, but only with advances in low-temperature processes,” added Sargent, who is also the Canada Research Chair in Nanotechnology.

Perovskite solar cells depend on a layer of tiny crystals — each about 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair — made of low-cost, light-sensitive materials.

Because the perovskite raw materials can be mixed into a liquid to form a kind of ‘solar ink’, they could be printed onto glass, plastic or other materials using a simple inkjet printing process.

“The most effective materials for making electron selective layers (ESLs) start as a powder and have to be baked at high temperatures, above 500 degrees Celsius,” said Tan.

Tan noted that perovskite solar cells using the older, high-temperature method are only marginally better at 22.1 per cent and even the best silicon solar cells can only reach 26.3 per cent.

Tan’s perovskite solar cells were also stable and retained more than 90 per cent of their efficiency even after 500 hours of use.

First Published | 18 February 2017 11:28 PM
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