Highly sensitive measurement technique leads to better solar cell

Highly sensitive measurement technique leads to better solar cell

Technology News |
By Wisse Hettinga

Current solar panels with silicon as their primary component are affordable and reliable. However, the use of a relatively new material, perovskite, could dramatically improve the solar cell’s efficiency

In the dark – pitch dark – and away from vibrations and noise. That is how PhD candidate Bas van Gorkom carried out his experiments over the past years. But it wasn’t a dark period, he says jokingly. On the contrary, because once he had set the measurements in motion, he could simply return to daylight.

With the use of a special setup, Van Gorkom developed a highly sensitive measurement technique to obtain information about the crystal structure of perovskite.

The most widely used technology for current solar cells is crystalline silicon. Some ten years ago, the first perovskite-based solar cells started to emerge. Material and production costs are low, and the manufacturing process of perovskite-based solar cells is relatively energy-efficient and simple. This newest technology, and its so-called tandem cell configuration in particular, has often been described as promising.

A tandem cell consists of a perovskite and silicon solar cell on top of each other, which yields an even higher efficiency. However, perovskite has a number of important drawbacks that continue to limit a large-scale commercial implementation of this technology, Van Gorkom explains. “The bonds between atoms in silicon crystals are very firm, which makes the material very stable. Perovskite crystals contain ions, positive and negative particles, with bonds that are much more dynamic. Exposure to light can cause them to move, which, naturally, creates problems for long term stability. You don’t want a solar cell to become unstable when it absorbs light. Therefore research into the improvement of the stability of perovskite is of great importance.”

Learn more about how Bas van Gorkom’s research at the Eindhoven University of Technology

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