Perovskite solar cells are the key to a promising new generation of solar panels. They are characterized by having crystals with a special structure, which is known as “perovskite”. The name derives from the one that has a mineral that naturally has such a structure.
Nickel oxide (NiO) is used in perovskite solar cells for its favorable optical properties and long-term stability.
Manufacturing high-quality nickel oxide films for solar cells often requires an intensive, high-temperature treatment process that is not only expensive, but also incompatible with plastic substrates. This has hitherto prevented the use of nickel oxide in the manufacture of printed photovoltaic systems on a commercial scale.
Now scientists at the Australian Research Council (ARC) Center of Excellence for Exciton Science at Monash University in Australia have identified a way to create nickel oxide films from of sufficient quality and in the form of a solution and at relatively low temperatures (below 150 degrees centigrade).
Monika Michalska’s team, in collaboration with colleagues at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), used a new chemical process that could contribute to the large-scale manufacture of cheap, inorganic films of high performance, capable of being used in the commercial production of flexible solar panels.
Solar cells on the roof of a Monash University building. (Photo: Monika Michalska (Exciton Science))
Researchers have reported energy conversion efficiencies of 17.9% and 17.5%, respectively, on prototype devices, compared to 16% achieved with a comparable previous approach, which lacked the benefits of the new process.
Significantly, the specimens of the new device tested showed an efficiency reduction of just 0.2% over an intense 300-hour test period. This is a strong indication of its potential suitability for commercial applications.
Michalska and his colleagues expose the technical details of their new process in the academic journal Solar RRL, cib the title “Microfluidic Processing of Ligand-Engineered NiO Nanoparticles for Low-Temperature Hole-Transporting Layers in Perovskite Solar Cells.” (Source: NCYT from Amazings)