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Perovskite Solar Cells to Pave Way for Ultra-Cheap, Easy-to-Use Power

Nov 11, 2016 05:30 AM EST

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have created new solar cells from perovskite. This presents a cheaper, much efficient way of making solar cells to fully utilize the Earth's solar potential. 

The scientists were able to make solar cells from the material that makes it inexpensive and use sunlight more efficiently. This is through a new method that sandwiches two perovskite together into a single cell.

According to Next Big Future, perovskite solar cells are made from a mix of organic and inorganic molecules that can capture light and convert it into electricity. The principle is the same as today's silicon-based solar cells. However, the perovskite devices can be made much easier and much cheaply than its silicon varieties. Perovskite is also much more flexible and easy to manufacture on large numbers.

The first perovskite solar cells may be able to get to the market next year. Some were even reported to have captured 20-percent of sunlight exposed to it.

According to a Nature Materials paper, the scientists of the two institutions reported that their new design already achieves a steady-state efficiency of 18.4 percent to as high as 21.7 to 26 percent. 

Alex Zetti from the UC Berkeley said this efficiency is higher than other perovskite cells. He said this can have great potential to be perhaps the cheapest photovoltaic cell on the market. 

This is true, as much of polycrystalline silicon solar cells today only get 10 to 20 percent efficiency. Even the purest silicon solar cells -- which are ridiculously expensive -- only get 25 percent efficiency.

The Berkeley achievement was made by allowing the two perovskites to absorb a different wavelength of sunlight into one "bandgap" that absorbs nearly the entire light spectrum. This is a good improvement, as previous methods of bandgapping have turned out to be disadvantageous to one or the other material.

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