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Industry News Combining the best properties: new material concept for solar cells

Jochen Schwab

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Researchers want to develop a fundamentally new solar cell concept in the project "Innovative liquid-applied ceramic solar cells".

In the "KeraSolar" project of the KIT Materials Science Centre for Energy Systems (MZE), new material concepts for solar cells are to be researched.
In the "KeraSolar" project of the KIT Materials Science Centre for Energy Systems (MZE), new material concepts for solar cells are to be researched.
(Bild: Markus Breig, KIT)

The scientists of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) combine research on photovoltaics with ceramic functional materials in order to bundle the advantages of different solar cell technologies: The printability of organic solar cells, the long-term stability of crystalline solar cells and the ferroelectricity of the lead halide perovskite.

One of the most important cornerstones of the future CO2-neutral energy supply is solar energy. Solar cells can collect this energy and convert it into usable electrical energy. Over the next six years, KIT researchers will be working on a completely new material concept for solar cells in the "Innovative liquid-applied ceramic solar cells" (KeraSolar) project funded by the Carl Zeiss Foundation with €4.5 million.

The new functional materials are manufactured from ceramic materials that promise exceptionally good robustness and long-term durability. However, modern solar cells must have far more properties: They must be arbitrarily formable and integrable in order to transform virtually any surface into solar power plants. Their production must consume as little energy as possible, the manufacturing processes should be free of toxic substances and the necessary raw materials should be available in sufficient quantities.

Nearly infinite possibilities to combine elements and compounds

This is precisely where the advantages of ceramic functional materials come into their own: they offer almost infinite possibilities for combining elements and compounds and thus achieving tailor-made material properties. This opens up a large new field of research for the project team.

The project is located at KIT's Materials Science Centre for Energy Systems (MZE), whose program is oriented towards the major research topics relating to energy conversion and storage. "We are pleased that the MZE has developed into a showcase project in modern, multidisciplinary materials research within a very short space of time, whose achievements are recognized and sustainably supported by KeraSolar," says Professor Michael J. Hoffmann, one of the initiators of the MZE. "We are delighted about the six-year funding from the Carl Zeiss Foundation."

About half of the 16 working groups from various scientific disciplines located at the MZE will participate in the project and contribute their expertise from electrical engineering, materials science, physics, and chemistry. They combine experimental approaches with theoretical considerations. "Thanks to the scientists from completely different disciplines and backgrounds, it is possible for us to set up such a challenging research project," says Dr. Alexander Colsmann. Together with Michael J. Hoffmann, he is coordinating the new project. A new experimental platform set up specifically for the "KeraSolar" project team will help to shape KIT's solar cell research in the long term.

This article was first published in German by Elektronikpraxis.


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