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Traditional solar cells are made from silicon, which can be limiting in terms of manufacturing costs and efficiency issues. However, a new alternative material, called perovskite, has recently produced some promising results. The challenge, however, with perovskite solar cells is that they require a process called annealing, which involves heating the material to high temperatures for a long period of time; this makes it difficult to mass-produce the cells quickly and cheaply.
Scientists from Power Roll Limited, and the Universities of Sheffield and Oxford used Grazing Incidence Small Angle X-ray Scattering (GISAXS) at Diamond to investigate a new method to create perovskite solar cells without the need for annealing. They used a mixture of solvents that evaporate quickly, allowing them to create the perovskite layer at room temperature. They also used a gas-quenching method to quickly remove the solvents after deposition. The resulting solar cells were found to be highly efficient, with power conversion efficiencies of up to 18%.
The researchers also explored the use of a self-assembled layer to transport charge in the solar cell, without the need for annealing. By combining the two methods, they were able to create fully annealing-free perovskite solar cells with power conversion efficiencies of up to 17.1%. This new method provides a promising step towards mass-producing perovskite solar cells quickly and cheaply, using roll-to-roll processing, which could potentially make solar energy more affordable and accessible.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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