New Material can Help Build Lead-free Perovskite Solar Cells

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It has been observed that perovskites, a class of materials that has a specific crystalline structure, can be a good alternative to silicon for manufacturing efficient and economical solar cells. However owing to the presence of lead in the material, which makes it toxic, and other organic materials, which are not stable when they are exposed to the environment, perovskite has not found its way through the solar power industry yet. But a new discovery can change things for better.

A group of researchers from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln (UNL) and Brown University has discovered a new titanium-based material that can make perovskite-based solar cells inorganic and lead-free. Researchers have shown that the material can emerge as a good candidate for solar cell, especially for the manufacture of special varieties of solar cells in which perovskite cells are placed above silicon or other conventionally used material. The arrangement can significantly boost the solar cell’s overall efficiency.

Nitin Padture, the senior author of the paper regarding the research, mentioned that despite the abundance of titanium and its biocompatibility and robustness, it has been largely overlooked in research studies related to perovskite. The researchers have shown that the titanium-based material can be used make thin-film perovskites and that the material boasts features that can work well for solar applications.

The interest of the research sector for clean energy increased in perovskites in 2009 when the material showed the ability to convert sunlight into electricity. While the first ever perovskite cells only had a conversion efficiency of nearly 4%, rapid developments in the field soon changed the number to nearly 23%, which is amazing as compared to silicon cells. Moreover, perovskites also carry the benefit of being partially transparent, which could enable the development of new technologies such as smart windows that are capable of producing energy.

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