Renewable energy New system speeds up the sampling rate of perovskite-based solar cells

| Author / Editor: Luke James / Florian Richert

Australian scientists have reportedly developed a system that enables tests on new designs for next-generation solar cells to be completed in a matter of hours instead of days.

Next generation solar cells will be manufactured in a matter of hours.
Next generation solar cells will be manufactured in a matter of hours.
(Source: Public Domain / Unsplash)

This is according to a team of researchers from Australia’s Monash University who claim that they have developed a machine that is capable of analysing up to 16 sample perovskite-based solar cells simultaneously, in parallel, which gives the process a dramatic speed boost. The team’s invention means that the performance and commercial potential of new compounds can be quickly evaluated, speeding up the overall development process and bringing new perovskite-based technologies to market quicker.

Enabling better testing and decision making

“Third generation perovskite cells have boosted performance to above 25%, which is almost identical to the efficiency level for conventional silicon-based ones,” said project leader Mr Adam Surmiak from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science.
However, these results stem from laboratory tests on millimetre-sized samples in indoor conditions; they do not account for outdoor environmental factors which is significant given that this is where perovskite-based cells are deployed. This means that the potential degradation and deterioration over time due to these factors is not accounted for.
“To make proper decisions, we need to know how each different cell design will function at large scales in the real world – and to do that we need a proper data library so we can pick the best candidates to take to that next stage. This new system lets us build that very rapidly and speed up transition from laboratory to fabrication.”

Important for renewable energy

In the arena of renewable energy generation, getting the formula right for perovskite solar cells is of critical importance due to efficiency and economical concerns; they cost around 10 times less than silicon cells and are far cheaper to manufacture, too.
To realise the high levels of precision needed to build the testing system, Monash University PhD candidate Surmiak and his colleagues approached Monash’s Instrumentation Facility and the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication, which forms part of the Australian National Fabrication Facility. Here, the research team’s designs were produced by utilising an ultra-detailed milling and a 16-micrometre precision 3D printer.
According to Surmiak, thanks to the new testing facility, he was able to significantly speed up the perovskite-based solar cell fabrication process, an achievement described as “world-leading” in a statement by Professor Udo Bach, a chief investigator at Exciton Science.
“Experimental high-throughput concepts will become increasingly important for the discovery of the next generation of energy materials, fuelling the transition to a carbon-neutral energy economy,” he said. “Our new set-up has the capacity to test thousands of solar cells in one single day, putting us ahead of practically all other R&D labs worldwide.”
The Monash team’s research was published in Solar RRL on April 22.