Peidong Yang, a professor of chemistry and faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab, and his colleagues have tweaked the chemical structure of perovskite so that the material turns from transparent to opaque when heated and also converts sunlight into electricity.
The thermochromic solar cell uses an inorganic halide perovskite with added cesium, lead, iodine and bromine has a relatively low efficiency of 7% and the transition from transparent window to opaque solar cell requires heating the window to the boiling point of water, but the team is already working on versions that work at lower temperatures and with higher conversion efficiency. One advantage is that the new material retains its conversion efficiency after many cycles between transparent and a reddish tint.
“This class of inorganic halide perovskite has amazing phase transition chemistry,” Yang said. “It can essentially change from one crystal structure to another when we slightly change the temperature or introduce a little water vapour.”
“The solar cell shows fully reversible performance and excellent device stability over repeated phase transition cycles without any color fade or performance degradation,” said Minliang Lai, a graduate student in Yang’s group. “With a device like this, a building or car can harvest solar energy through the smart photovoltaic window.”
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